Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Re-readathon #4!

I always love Bex's re-readathons. I'm a huge fan of re-reading but in a world of towering TBR piles, it's something I don't make enough time for. So it's a great excuse to kick back with some old favourites!

On a highly personal note, this re-readathon has come at the perfect time- very recently, my relationship with my partner of four years ended. So I'm in dire need of some self-care and burying myself in books I love seems to be just the ticket.

I'm also (gasp) not making a TBR pile this time around. I'm a big fan of lists and pictures of piles of books, but I'm thinking I'll just grab whatever feels right. It's going to be that kind of week and a half, I think!

Anyway. Here's the opening survey:

1. Who are you and where are you reading from?
I'm Gemma and I'll be reading (mostly) from Belfast in Northern Ireland.

2. Do you re-read often? Is this your first re-readathon?
Like I've said, HUGE fan of re-reading. I'm honestly suspicious of people who don't re-read. I think I've participated in all of Bex's re-readathons so far, with varying degrees of success!

3. Are you planning to read other things or re-read exclusively over the next 10 days?
I'm not sure! I'm in the middle of Different Seasons by Stephen King at the moment and I'm hesitant to abandon it for 10 days- I'm actually really enjoying it- but then, as I've said, I'm just going to go with the flow and read what I want. Which is something I don't do enough, really.

4. Recommend us one book, what would it be?
Hmm, I feel like I should recommend a re-read considering the type of readathon this is! Of course I don't know what people have read so... Classics are a good place to start. Re-read Jane Eyre! Or Pride and Prejudice! Or The Picture of Dorian Gray! Or the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings... the question said one book, right? Whoops.

5. What are you reading first?
I've already kicked off with two books: The Paying Guests which is Sarah Waters's most recent book, about a woman and her widowed mother who take in a lodger couple in 1922 London, and Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, one of my absolute favourite feminist books.

I'm planning to update this post at least once a day, and maybe start another if it gets a bit unwieldy :)

Day 1
What I read;
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (1-46)
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (1-126)
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (1-88)
Total pages read: 260

I was off work today so I took a little trip into town to get some shopping and then came home and spent most of the day reading in bed. I'm all about staying in bed these days, but at least I'm sleeping less and being halfway productive, even if it is under a duvet! You gotta do what works for you. Plus it was super cold today for some reason... I fear summer is over.

Anyway. The Paying Guests is reminding me why I love re-reading books- sometimes when you have knowledge of what happens later in the book, the start of it seems completely different. And that's all I can say without being spoilery :)

I later switched to Everyday Sexism, which is just as horrifying, if not more so, than I remembered. The way you can't question sexist attitudes and jokes without being told you've got no sense of humour, the women who are assaulted and then asked what they were wearing, the primary school girls who are taught not to aspire to too much... it's all ringing a little too true with my own experiences. Such an eye-opening read.

To stop getting too depressed/ragey, I then picked up Caitlin Moran's brilliant semi-autobiographical coming of age tale How to Build a Girl. This is my third read of it, and it still makes me laugh. And it's oh so relatable to anyone who was ever an awkward teenager (everyone, then).

Day 2
What I Read:
The Paying Guests (pp. 47-123)
Everyday Sexism (pp. 127-160)
How to Build a Girl (pp. 89-148)
Pages read today: 171
Total pages read: 431

Today I woke up feeling pretty good for the first time in ages, did some reading, went to Tesco... and then burned myself out and fell asleep, waking up ten minutes before I had to leave for work. Oh well. I'm getting there. Someday soon I'll be a functional human being, but not just yet.

I'm pretty caught up in reading The Paying Guests, so I think I'll try to read a good chunk of that before bed. The reason I love Sarah Waters is her period detail which is so wonderful it pulls me right in. I can taste the pinwheel sandwiches and smell the burn of waved hair :)

Day 3
What I Read:
The Paying Guests (pp. 124-181)
Everyday Sexism (pp. 161-233)
How to Build a Girl (pp. 149-240)
Pages read today: 223
Total pages read: 654

I'm actually surprised I read as much as I did today, honestly- I'm still struggling with, well, getting out of bed- accidentally had a two-hour lie in this morning, and then spent much of my pre-work reading time messaging with my friend about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child-era headcanons (Ron and his dad like to discuss the merits of various Muggle cars, Luna sends the Potter kids bit and pieces from her travels which bewilder everyone but delight Lily, and so on).

But I still made reading progress! Most notably in How to Build a Girl. I'm remembering another reason I love this book so much- the portrayal of Johanna's sexuality. So many books deal with horny teenage boys, but female masturbation still seems like a taboo most of the time. So I'm enjoying Johanna's adventures as a 'swashfuckler' (best word ever).

Day 4
What I Read;
The Paying Guests (pp. 182-206)
Everyday Sexism (pp. 233-310)
How to Build a Girl (pp. 241-245)
Pages read today; 108
Total pages read; 762

Busy day today, so I didn't get the chance to read too much- I had a long shift at work, and then afterwards I spontaneously ended up at my friend's house, where we watched Tallulah, the new Ellen Page movie in which she plays a troubled drifter who kidnaps a baby. It was actually really good, and made better in the special way that watching movies with good friends can only do- lots of yelling "Don't do that!" and "Why doesn't she just...?" at the screen.

I mostly ended up reading Everyday Sexism, which is a weird mixture of extremely readable and also not something you can read in large chunks, as you just end up too angry. I'm nearly at the end- I'm on the chapter about how sexism is bad for men too, which is such a welcome inclusion in the book- so I might get to finish it off tomorrow.

Day 5
What I Read:
The Paying Guests (pp. 207-299)
Everyday Sexism (pp. 310-382) (finished)
How to Build a Girl (pp. 245-343) (finished)
The Magicians by Lev Grossman (pp. 1-58)
Pages read today: 323
Total pages read: 1085

So I um, read quite a lot today. What can I say, things were getting juicy in The Paying Guests and I was so close to finishing the other two it would have been a crime to put them down. I even went to work somewhere in between all those pages. I was just having one of those days where I don't particularly feel like doing anything except reading, so, that's what happened.

I have to say, I am struggling with this whole 'be spontaneous! Read what you feel like!' thing. Mostly it's just making me stare at my bookshelves/kindle in despair and indecision. I'm a planner, what can I say.

Out of said despair and indecision, I picked up The Magicians by Lev Grossman which I last read in 2012. I remember loving it to bits, but I'm a bit hazy on the details. The funny thing about this book is that it has so many varying opinions and people seem to love it or hate it, and also it's been described in so many weird and not entirely accurate ways. My copy, for instance, makes it seem like some Dan Brown-esque thriller with not even a mention of magic in the blurb. I've heard it called the adult Narnia (sort of but not quite) and 'if Bret Easton Ellis wrote Harry Potter' (a bit closer to the truth). Basically, main character Quentin Coldwater discovers that the Fillory series of books he loved as a child (and still secretly loves) (and which are also literally the Narnia books) are real, magic is real, and he gets accepted in Brakebills College of Magical Pedagogy. Magic turns out to be ridiculously tedious and difficult, drugs are plentiful and the post college fantasy world isn't all that great. It's pretty much a book for people who've had embarrassing fantasies about living in fantasy books and there's little digs at Harry Potter in it which I find pretty funny.

Day 6
What I Read:
Moranthology by Caitlin Moran (pp. 1-69)
The Paying Guests (pp. 300-406)
Pages read today: 176
Total pages read: 1261

I was feeling a bit sad for having finished How to Build a Girl so I picked up more Caitlin Moran in the shape of Moranthology, which is a collection of her journalism. I think I actually read these back to back the first time I read them too. Isn't it funny how you read some books in clumps?

I spent the morning before work getting sucked into The Paying Guests, where shit has really hit the fan. I forgot how good this book is, actually. My overriding memory of it from my first read was 'good and all, but not her best' and it's amazing how different I feel when I don't have that weird pressure/anxiety that comes from reading a new book by one of your favourite authors. The period detail, the creeping tension... I'm seriously loving it. It's making me think about picking up some more Sarah Waters this readathon, though I think most of her books are at my parents' house, boo.


  1. Sorry to hear about your relationship, self care is definitely the way to go! I always find old favourites so comforting when life is rough. I've got Jane Eyre on my TBR since I just got the clothbound edition, I'm hoping I'll get to it! Glad to have you joining us again!

    1. I have that edition too, it's gorgeous :)

  2. Oh, I do love Sarah Waters' books! The Paying Guests is a good one, and I need to return to that one soon, although it probably won't be for this rereadathon. I tried reading Everyday Sexism but it is very angry-making so I'd have to be in the right mood for that. I did like her other book Girl Up, though.

    So sorry to hear about your relationship. It's always hard when something that's been a huge part of your life comes to an end, no matter what the circumstances. Hope you're doing OK. *lots of hugs*

    1. Everyday Sexism is very infuriating. I just read the section on children and it's bringing back all sorts of awful memories about being told what I could and couldn't do when I was little... *grumble grumble* I really need to read Girl Up!