Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bout of Books: Update post

Reading: Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam, The Charioteer by Mary Renault, Nana by Emile Zola, Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
Pages read: 3+92+55+18= 168
Total pages read: 168
Books finished; Nana
Total books finished: 1

Pretty strong start, if I say so myself. (Okay, so TECHNICALLY this includes books I read after midnight on Sunday before I went to bed, and books read after midnight on Monday so it's more than 24 hours. But, technicalities.)

The Charioteer is really good, so I've been powering through that easily. I also finally got my head down and finished Nana, hurray! I'm so glad. It's the last book I had to read for my degree so now in theory I'm free to write essays and revise.

Beautiful You is pretty good so far, despite my misgivings.

Reading: Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk, The Charioteer by Mary Renault
Pages read: 82+5= 87
Total pages read: 245
Books finished; None
Total books finished: 1

Pages read so far: 71

My head is pretty much fried. Final year, guys. It's crazy. I've been working on essays and revising for my oral exam next Monday and freaking out about the MA I want to do (how do you do an MA and not become homeless or give up eating for a year. HOW.) So, yes. It's time for a break and some crazy Chuck Palahniuk.

This book is seriously weird. I think I like it. I'm not sure. Basically, it's about this woman, Penny, who is randomly asked out by this super wealthy billionaire, who then proceeds to... pleasure her, shall we say, obsessively. She's his test subject for a line of ridiculously effective sex toys, which will take over the world, or something. So far, so Chuck Palahniuk.

I'm not sure what he's trying to say or if he is trying to say anything at all, but I'm having a fun time figuring it out. I don't think the hints of Fifty Shades of Grey are unintentional, which is pretty funny.

Reading: The Charioteer by Mary Renault
Pages read: 39
Total pages read: 284
Books finished; None
Total books finished: 1

So tonight we had a (ill-advised?) get together with some people from my course, with Cards Against Humanity and general giggles. I haven't hung out with anyone in so long, so that was actually awesome. Sometimes even when you're impossibly bogged down with essays and revision, you still need something to make yourself feel a bit... saner.

This is what my view looks like 99% of the time these days.

So, not much on the reading front done today. But The Charioteer is still good.

Reading: The Charioteer by Mary Renault
Pages read: 28
Total pages read: 312
Books finished; None
Total books finished: 1

Pages read so far: 10

Hey look! I'm still in essay hell!

But oddly enough I'm not quite as stressed as I have been over the past few days. Maybe it's the restorative powers of last night, I don't know, but I've managed to get past the planning stages of both my essays and onto actually writing the damn things, which actually feels so much better. I'm nearly a third through my French and I've finally settled on texts for my English, so it's all good.

As far as reading...? Well, I've read a grand total of 10 pages today so far, which is pretty feeble even by non-Bout of Books standards... I'm having a brief study break now so I'll read a bit, then do some coursework until about midnight or so and hopefully get more read before I fall asleep.

The Charioteer is still good. It's so subtle in some ways and so daring in others. Things are getting interesting and I'm holding my breath that things aren't going to go horribly wrong for certain characters.


Reading: The Charioteer by Mary Renault, Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
Pages read: 38+110= 148
Total pages read: 460
Books finished; None
Total books finished: 1

Pages read so far: 125

Today was my last day of classes for my undergrad. It was weird. I don't think it's really sunk in yet- that and the fact that I'm hopefully doing a Master's in October in the same university, so it's not really like I'm leaving. But still. I hated school and hated the year I spent in France teaching-assistanting, so Belfast and uni is kind of the only place I've been truly happy.

But then, when I got on the bus to go home for the weekend, I realised that I didn't have any uni reading to do. For like, the first time since September. So I got a good chunk of Beautiful You read, and it was fabulous.

I'm enjoying Beautiful You quite a bit more than I expected, actually. Things have got so ridiculous it's very entertaining and I'm interested to see how it all pans out. It's a book about sex toys that destroy civilisation. I mean, come on. How could I not like it? I'm about thirty pages from the end so I'd love to get it finished before I go to bed, provided essay writing doesn't exhaust me too much.

Reading: Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk, The Charioteer by Mary Renault,
Pages read: 12+32= 44
Total pages read: 504
Books finished; Beautiful You
Total books finished: 2

Pages read so far: 44

Normally I work from 12 to about 10 or even later on a Saturday, but it was quiet so I got home at half 8. Yay! In that time, admittedly, I haven't done much except eat large quantities of naan bread and tinker with my music, but it's still something to be celebrated.

I finished Beautiful You this morning. I've actually been at the stage with my reading lately where finishing a book is a big achievement, sigh. I can only think longingly of the days when finishing a book was an everyday occurrence, and not having finished a book in a few days was just weird. Oh well, there's always summer.

The Charioteer is also still good. I'm hoping to read more of it tonight, though I've got essays and revision awaiting me as always. Depends how much willpower I have at the end of it all!

Reading: The Charioteer by Mary Renault, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Pages read: 61+78= 139
Total pages read: 643
Books finished; None
Total books finished: 2

I'm writing this up super late, but circumstances were against me. On Sunday all my overwork caught up with me and I got sick in that niggling, annoying sort of way- I was exhausted, couldn't face food and my throat was sore. So I ended up spending most of the day in bed. Not what I wanted or needed with an oral exam the next day and two essays that desperately needed writing, but sometimes you have to listen to your body. That said, I actually managed to read more than I thought I did and picked up The Woman in White as it's a Kindle book and therefore easier to read while flat out in bed. God, I love it so much. I'm kind of glad I don't really remember what happens in it, it keeps things surprising.

Total pages read: 643
Books finished: Nana by Emile Zola, Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
Other books read from: The Charioteer by Mary Renault, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Plus a teeny tiny bit of Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam.

Well, it's over! 643 pages isn't a lot by most standards, but it's definitely more than I would have read usually this week, and that's the whole point, isn't it? I finished one of my urgent library books and read most of the over, finally finished Nana and got stuck into The Woman in White. I've had a blast.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bout of Books 13: It begins

Bout of Books

It's time for Bout of Books!

Yeah, I'm fresh off Bex's re-readathon, and it's my last week of classes as an undergrad ever, and I've got essays and revision coming out of my ears but NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

What is Bout of Books, I hear you cry? From the blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

What I'm reading

This is my humble book pile, or at least what I'm starting with. From top to bottom:

1. Nana by Emile Zola: This is for uni. I've got 30 odd pages left and should, in theory, finish it tonight. Technically I was supposed to have it finished over Easter, but ssh. It's good though- I'm enjoying it more as we enter the craziness towards the end.

2. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
Non-renewable library book, so high priority. I have a sort of love/hate thing with Chuck Palahniuk. Some of his books are amazing. Some of his books are dire. Going by the reviews, his newest offering might be in the latter category, but I still have to read it, because that's how my mind works.

3. The Charioteer by Mary Renault
Same story as above: need to read it asap or LibrariesNI will have my guts for garters. This is kind of unusual in that it's a World War II story, published in 1953, dealing with gay themes. I'm really into reading LGBT+ canon and I've heard Mary Renault is pretty great, so here we go. I started it last night and I'm loving it so far.

4. Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam
Not as high priority as the others- it might fall on the backburner a bit, as I really want to read my library books this week. But it's a book that I'm currently reading, so I'll probably pick it up at some point this week. As you can probably tell from the title, it's a non-fiction book about female masculinity. I'm fascinated by gender, being non-binary myself, so this should be an interesting read. 

On the Kindle I also have The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, a 19th century sensation novel which I read once before and loved. I'm about 100 pages in (out of nearly 700) and again, it's not my priority this week, but it may well get a look in.

Basically, I want to focus on library books this week. I have a library addiction which has rapidly spun out of control over the past few months, so I want to get a good dent into those. After Beautiful You and The Charioteer I've got some interesting non-fiction books that I've been dying to read. Here's hoping I'll get around to them!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Re-readathon: Sunday and round-up

Reading: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Nana by Emile Zola
Pages read: 261
Total pages read: 965

Pages read so far: 154
I finished How to be a Woman last night and I've moved on to Fun Home- nothing like a graphic novel to boost your page count on the last day of a readathon, lol. It's so good- I'd forgotten a lot of it. It's also encouraged me to check out the Broadway musical version, which so far is pretty damn good.

I need to do some serious uni work today, now that I've got my phone sorted at last- after O2 Support couldn't help me I dutifully went with the fix-all factory reset. Which worked, but also deleted all my personal data which is a bitch. Anyway. Hopefully I'll get Fun Home finished today and maybe read a little The Woman in White to finish off, in between my French oral revision, starting three separate essays, reading the last three chapters of Nana and answering seminar questions, doing a translation...

Final year got me like

Annnd we're done!

Total pages read: 965
I mean, the obsessive in me is annoyed because it's so close to a nice, round 1000, but meh. It's well over what I wanted to read (100 pages a day) and, yes, it includes two graphic novels, but I'm not particularly worried about that. 

Books finished: 
Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Persuasion by Jane Austen (started before re-readathon)
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

and also:

100ish pages of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Several chapters of Nana by Emile Zola

I've really enjoyed myself this week. It's so nice to actually make some time to reread the things I've been meaning to for so long! My books were all fantastic and I think it's got me back into the habit of actually reading when I have the time, instead of pissing about online. 

Next up: Bout of Books!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Re-readathon: Friday and Saturday

Reading: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Pages read: 116
Total pages read: 595

Pages read so far: 65
Fridays are kind of a nightmare for me. Uni in the morning, then travel two hours home, eat dinner, go to work. I used to work the late shift until 4am on Fridays so at least I don't do that anymore...

Still, doesn't leave me with much time for reading. How to be a Woman is as delightful and readable as I remember though, so I've been picking it up whenever I've got a spare moment. Currently debating with myself as to whether to get some studying in tonight or simply retire with Caitlin Moran's escapades in strip clubs. I know which I'd rather do, and which I really should be doing...

Reading: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Pages read: 109
Total pages read: 704
Books finished: How to be a Woman

Pages read so far: 75
Ugh, today.

How I feel about today.

I worked a ten-hour shift today, which is pretty normal for a Saturday, but I'm totally shattered. Then I got home and found my phone isn't sending texts for some reason that neither I nor Google can ascertain. And my computer may or may not be having issues too. And I just cannot be bothered sorting either of these things out.

Still, How to be a Woman is good- I'm on the last chapter, so I'll almost certainly finish it before I go to sleep tonight. I'm happy I've had the opportunity to reread it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Re-readathon: Wednesday and Thursday, plus Re-readathon challenge

Reading: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Nana by Emile Zola
Pages read: 176
Total pages read: 479
Books finished: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Pages read so far: 149

Why is it days off always seem to be the busiest? I have no classes on Wednesdays, so I always think I'm going to have an easy time of it but it never quite works out that way. I had to get groceries this morning, then go to an essay writing workshop and then drive home so I can vote tomorrow, and I've been pretty much studying all night. So I've actually had less time to do my own thing than yesterday. I'm sort of up to date with my uni reading though now, which is great.

I finished Persuasion today- only a day after I was supposed to, hurray! It's an odd one. I can't quite figure out how I feel about it. I think it's probably second-last to Mansfield Park in my mental ranking of favourite Austens. but there's something about it I like. The fact that the heroine is considerably older than usual, and her relationship takes so much longer to figure out- it feels more realistic somehow.

Nana is... still Nana. I like it, but it's not easy going at all. It's in French, nineteenth-century French on top of that, and it's so long. The chapters are all like forty pages too, and since I'm reading it for uni I'm thinking about themes and imagery and metaphors and historical context and.... 

On the Actual Reading For Fun side, I was totally intending to start on How to Be a Woman last night but I ended up picking up The Woman in White instead. God, it's so good. I forgot how delightful it is. It's so Victorian and the characters are so vivid and Marion is just the best, isn't she?

Back to Nana now for a bit, then I'm getting into bed with Wilkie Collins.

... Not in that way.

Reading: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, Nana by Emile Zola
Pages read: 161
Total pages read: 640

Pages read so far: 38

Another busy day off here. I went voting this morning and to the library to return a book- and for once I actually left the library without checking any books out! Seriously, that's a big thing for me. Then I got the bus back up to uni. Sometimes I can read on the bus, sometimes I can't, and today was a definite no. Which was a shame, because I really could have done with that time to read more of Nana...

Anyway. Read a bit of The Woman in White over breakfast, then made a tiny start on How to be a Woman. I'm really looking forward to reading more of it later on, when I get bored of all this uni work.

Re-readathon Challenge

Bex wants to know what book we read over and over. I'm going to be fantastically unoriginal here: mine is definitely the Harry Potter series!

I was planning on taking a picture of my full collection of HP books before I came back up to uni- but nope. So, settle for the only one I have with me, my old, well-read, slightly-battered copy of Philosopher's Stone.

Actually, it was originally my brother's- he got the first three (then the only ones released) for his tenth birthday. I was a book-hungry six year old and I read them straight after he did. I loved them, and have loved them ever since. I don't know how many times I've reread the series- but on average probably about once a year. I grew up with them- I was fourteen when Deathly Hallows was released and, not to sound clich├ęd, but they were my childhood. They still make me laugh and cry every time. I've definitely reached for them in bad times. I'm hopefully getting 'expecto patronum' tattooed on my arm in a few weeks, as a tribute to how books and positive thinking have got me past my own Dementors. Just... Harry Potter, forever.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Re-readathon: Monday and Tuesday

Reading: The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Pages read: 47

So, not a lot of reading went on today. Saturday was my girlfriend's birthday, so Monday was our day doing birthday things. We went to the zoo, because that's what Mature Adults do on birthdays. It was awesome, mostly because it actually stayed dry the entire time! Then we went out for dinner and back to mine for Monopoly DC Comics edition (which is a thing) and Game of Thrones. So, all in all a really nice day, but not one for reading.

I read a bit of Preludes & Nocturnes in the morning and I'm thankful to graphic novels for making my page count look bigger than it is... I forgot how damn good these books are. Just, everything about them, all the different layers, mixing myth and religion and DC comics and the art is gorgeous and... I'm probably going to keep reading the rest of the series now that I've started.

Reading: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Nana by Emile Zola, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Pages read: 256
Total pages read: 303

Pages read so far: 90

I've got a full day of classes today, it's very much back to business. Ugh, final year. On the plus side, I managed to read a fair chunk of Preludes & Nocturnes this morning while getting ready- anyone else read while not only eating breakfast, but also brushing their teeth and drying their hair? Just me? :P Also, so totally not the reason I was a bit late to class this morning. Nope, not at all.

I'm going to read a bit more over lunch now, before I go back into class for the rest of the afternoon. I'm wondering if I can get this book finished today...

Pages read so far: 242

I finished Preludes & Nocturnes! I forgot how much I love these books. I definitely want to keep rereading the series- whether that happens this week remains to be seen...

So damn good.

I've also managed to read a little of Persuasion and Nana for uni. Persuasion was technically supposed to be read before today's seminar, but if I've read it before, after all. Even if I remember... not all that much about it. It's an interesting one though.

Nana is... such a weird book, oh my god. I'm seriously behind on my reading for that as well (you know, along with everything else- it is the second last week of the semester after all) but I remember it pretty well since I only read it a year ago, so it's all good. 

I'm going to make a start now on How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, which should be fun if it's as good as I remember.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


***Sticky*** - Sign up for a week of re-reading your favourite books!

It's finally here! Bex's Re-Readathon starts tomorrow and I'm super excited. This week is my second last week as an undergraduate and the pressure is seriously on- so it'll be great to escape with some old favourites.

This is my to-read pile:

From top to bottom:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling: 
I don't really need to introduce this, do I? I've read it almost once a year since I was six. I'm surprised I don't have it memorised, to be honest. I've been feeling lately it's time to reread the Harry Potter books once again.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
 I last read this four odd years ago, and remember loving it- but I don't remember much about it! What I do remember is that it's a surprisingly funny, very autobiographical story about a girl growing up in a deeply religious home who discovers her sexuality- and there's a lot of wonder Winterson-y oddness too. I've been meaning to re-read this since I read Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Winterson's autobiography- which was itself nearly three years ago... So it's long overdue!

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Last read December 2012. Since I'm nearly at the end of my university life (as an undergrad, at least) I figure I should reread this. It's a scholarly sort of thriller and there's a murder in it, the circumstances of which I can't quite remember.

Among Others by Jo Walton
Some day I may dedicate a whole post to this book- I read it last January and it hit me hard. You know when sometimes the right book comes along at just the right time? I reread it pretty quickly after that, but haven't looked at it since, though the characters and places have been ticking over in my head ever since. It's about a girl at a horrible boarding school in the 1970s, reading lots of science fiction and using books to escape. And there are fairies.

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
Last read in 2010, this is a sort of memoir/introduction to feminism that had me laughing so much I had to put it away, struggling to keep a straight face, on the train. I read Moran's other two books- the collection of essays Moranthology and her coming of age novel How to Build a Girl- quite recently and they've made me remember how awesome this book was. So I can't wait to read it again!

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Sometimes I feel like this book was written just for me, because it ticks so many of my boxes. About books? Check. Lesbians? Check. Coming of age? Check. Lesbians? Check. Dysfunctional family? Check. That said, I'm a bit shaky on remembering exactly what went down in it. Plus it recently got made into a Broadway musical, which is something I definitely need to check out.

Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman
I read The Sandman books at a very young age- probably too young, I think I was between eleven and fourteen... thank my older brother for that. I'm always banging on about how good they are but I haven't read the series all the way through since then (and I actually haven't read The Kindly Ones at all- for some reason it was the only one the library didn't have, and graphic novels were prohibitively expensive when I was a teen...) So, yes, I really, really need to fix that.

On the Kindle:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
I'm kind of torn on this, because I really do want to reread it but it's so long! Like, if I read nothing but this I probably still won't finish it in a week. Oh well, I've added it to the list anyway. This is another book that ticks so many of my personal boxes- Victorian! Family secrets! Mysterious characters! I read it in 2011 so it deserves a reread.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
It's difficult to know how to describe this book. It tends to get branded 'Harry Potter for grown-ups!' a lot, which is... sort of true, sort of not true. I've also heard it described as if Bret Easton Ellis wrote Harry Potter, which is probably a better description in my mind. Basically, the characters discover that the setting of their childhood favourite books (which is so-totally-not-Narnia) is real and they go to school to learn magic, but to me, it's a lot more about the experience of being an intense fan of fantasy novels than actually being a fantasy novel in itself. Or something. Anyway, I read and loved this and the sequel a while back, and the third book in the trilogy came out recently so I need reread the first two, as I'm a bit sketchy on the details.

As far as goals, I'm hoping to read about 100 pages a day, or read about 2-3 of these. Uni permitting...

Also, it's occurred to me that the books I'm reading for uni at the moment, Persuasion by Jane Austen and Nana by Emile Zola are both rereads, so I can totally count those towards my page total. Huzzah!