Thursday, January 26, 2017

Re-readathon info and my TBR

I've been a big fan of Bex's re-readathons since the start- what could be better than putting aside any guilt about what you should be reading and instead indulging in some old favourites for a week? Even more exciting, this time round I am co-hosting with Bex and Katie! This is a huge deal for my tiny little blog to be collaborating with two of my favourite bloggers so I'm super pumped.

The action kicks off on Sunday 5th February and continues until the following Sunday 12th. To take part, simply spend some time re-reading throughout the week! You can dedicate the whole week to rereading, or simply pick up an old favourite in addition to whatever else you're reading at the moment. There'll be challenges running throughout the week as well as a twitter chat- you can also share your progress with the #rereadathon tag on your social media of choice. I'll be posting here and on my instagram. You can sign up at Bex's blog here which also works as a handy little hub to keep track of who else is re-reading!

Now, the big question: what am I planning on re-reading? I'll probably just roll with it and see what I feel like reading, as that's worked well for me in the past- but here's some ideas I've had so far:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I read this when it was hyped back in the day and I'm wondering how it will hold up to a reread, now that I (and let's face it, everyone else) know the Big Twist. Only one way to find out!

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: I've been meaning to reread this forever, and probably since the first re-readathon. NOW IS THE TIME. Hopefully.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket: I've been watching the brilliant Netflix series and it's rekindling my obsession with this universe. As these are short, maybe I'll even get to read more than one, but we'll see.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling: It's becoming a wee bit of a tradition for me to reread some HP during the re-readathon, so why not.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien: Another series I've reread about a million times, but I haven't read this in a few years now, and that definitely needs to change.

What are you planning to reread? :)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Belated 2016 wrap up

It wouldn't be me if I published this post anywhere close to the proper time, now would it?

I read so many good books this year, you guys. I also read considerably more this year than I did last year, which is also super. I tried to make an effort to read more of my own books as well as just sort of following my heart by reading what I wanted to read and not what I 'should' be reading, and it all paid off pretty well I think.

Here's some statistics!

Total number of books read: 130
This is up from an even 100 last year and I'm super happy with that, as I'm finally back to something resembling what I read in previous years. Yay!

Number of books I read that I own (as opposed to library books or books borrowed): 91
Last year I actually only read 23, so this is a huge improvement. Huge. I think I have acquired a lot more books last year than I did last year so the number is probably affected by that, but even so. I'm really happy about this.

Nonfiction: 17
Down from 25 last year. I'm not particularly bothered about this number; I've always read mostly fiction and I don't really see that changing much.

Books written by men: 59
(This number gets trickier as I read more and more books by non-binary writers and it's not so simple as dividing it into books by men and books by women... but this is books written by exclusively men, not including non-binary writers and books with male and female contributors)
This is up from last year, but it's most likely skewed from reading for my MA, which was heavy on men this year *mutter mutter*

Rereads: 28
Higher than I thought and higher than last year's 18- again I blame my MA, where I even ended up reading some of the same books from class to class, because my uni's organisation skills suck. Still, most of the rereads were pretty damn good. Although I have now had to read Heart of Darkness FOUR TIMES in my academic career. I didn't enjoy it the first time, I didn't enjoy it the fourth time. Plz assign different books, any lecturers who might be reading this.

And now, a little run down of my top ten of the year, in no particular order because otherwise this post would have taken probably even longer to finally get up:

Lumberjanes #1 (of 8) by [Stevenson, Noelle, Ellis, Grace] Am I Normal Yet?: The Spinster Club Series by [Bourne, Holly]Nimona by [Stevenson, Noelle]Asking For It (Winner of the Irish Book Awards 2015) by [O'Neill, Louise]If I Was Your Girl by [Russo, Meredith]The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (with Cats!) by [Pulley, Anna]The Argonauts by [Nelson, Maggie]Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by [Brownstein, Carrie]

Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

I loved this, and I'm sitting here wondering why I haven't reread it since my first reading. In case you haven't encountered it, it's a graphic novel about a bunch of girls at scout camp "For Hardcore Lady Types" and their adventures. My only complaint about this was that it was so short (even by graphic novel standards) but I should make up for that by reading more Lumberjanes in the new year.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

A wonderful look at being a mentally ill teenager and most importantly, what happens after you think you're getting your life back on track. AKA, a topic that is never discussed enough in any fiction let alone YA. There are three more in the series and I'm really hoping to get through at least some of them in the new year!

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This was really the year for fun graphic novels. It's difficult to describe the plot of Nimona, but suffice to say it involves a shape-shifting protagonist, superheroes, villains and dragons. Just read it. Trust me.

Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton

I love it when two things I love come together, and here it's literature and piss-taking cartoons. You've probably seen her cartoons everywhere, and here they are in book form! Yay!

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill

It's hard to say that I loved this book... because reading it was a really, really unpleasant experience. I've tried to write a proper review post for this like it deserves but there are really no words. This is about rape and a small town and consent and the awful justice system. It will make you despair and make you angry, but it is so, so important, and so, so well written. I'm still in shock at how much this book affected me.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda moves in with her dad and starts her senior year in a new high school, but she has a secret- she's transgender. There were some problems with this book- Amanda's super-quick transition is unrealistic and her portrayal as super feminine can be seen as a bit problematic- but Russo addresses these issues in her epilogue perfectly reasonably- this is a story about a girl with a secret, first and foremost, and the situations you find yourself in when people don't know who you really are. It's always so good to read good LGBTQ+ fiction that addresses something other than initially coming out and by the end, I was frantically wiping away tears while sitting on my lunch break at work. I loved this.

The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (With Cats!) by Anna Pulley and Kelsey Beyer

Okay so with a title like this you might be wondering how this could ever possibly live up to its promises. And it does! This is actually a really clever, hilarious look at lesbian culture, illustrated with adorable cats. What's not to love?

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

I picked this up without much knowledge about it other than that it was queer and everyone was raving about it. Honestly, I'm still not really sure what to call it! Part philosophy, part memoir, part polemic. This is a sort of personal account of Maggie Nelson, her non-binary partner, and her pregnancy, with meditations on feminism and queer theory and parenthood. I read this mostly in one sitting and absolutely loved it.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

I'm a big fan of Carrie Brownstein, Sleater-Kinney and basically everything else she ever touches. This is a memoir focused on her life in a rock band and everything that involves: personal struggles, professional struggles, inter-band struggles... it's wonderfully honest and makes for some very sad reading at times.

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Actually the very last book I finished this year, and what a book to go out on! I've been aware for years of this book as a lesbian/transgender classic but am only finally getting round to it now. Part of me wishes I got to it sooner, but part of me is also super glad that I'm reading it right now, as the lines between lesbian and man, male and female, start to shift a lot in my own life. I loved the history, I loved the politics, I loved the gender stuff... seriously going down as one of my favourites of all time. (Also, since Feinberg's death this is available as a free PDF on hir website, so what have you go to lose?)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Saturday, Sunday and Wrap Up

I've been reading: Only Ever YoursPublic Library
Pages read: 109
Books finished: Public Library
Total pages read; 480
Total books finished: 2
Essay writing progress: umm

It feels like I didn't really do anything on Saturday. I had a friend stay over on Friday night and she had to get up super early for work, which then woke me up for ages so I stayed in bed until I had to go to work in the afternoon, pretty much. I still somehow managed to read quite a bit though.

I finished my second book, yay! I know I said I wasn't really feeling Public Library but I actually did like it quite a bit when I'd finished. Whether that's because I got used to the format or because the later stories were actually better, I don't know. It's my third Ali Smith book and I'm still thirsty for more.

I'm absolutely loving Only Ever Yours, and I only stopped reading it when I realised how close to the end of Public Library I was and wanted to finish that before bed. It's such a wonderfully constructed universe. Things seem to be getting interesting now so I can't wait to read more.

I've been reading: The View From the Cheap Seats
Pages read: 88
Total pages read; 566
Total books finished: 2
Essay writing progress: one down one to go, woo!

I'm actually surprised I read as much as I did as today felt super busy for me. I was in work all day and then had to come home and finish the essay that's due on Monday- which I did, just in time for Sherlock, yay! And then I just went to bed after Sherlock because that episode was emotionally exhausting, omg.

But, no. I read a good chunk of The View From the Cheap Seats. I'm still sort of in the section of the book that I'm not really into- about writers and books, most of whom I've never read. Mostly it's interesting, but I'm keen to get onto other stuff.

Wrap up

So how did I do? Well, I read 566 pages and finished 2 books, which isn't actually that far off my goal, especially considering I had such a crazy week with writing essays. I'm super happy with all my reading choices and will hopefully finish Only Ever Yours and The View From the Cheap Seats in the next few days :)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

I've been reading: The Beauty Myth, Public Library
Pages read; 20
Total pages read: 175
Essay writing progress: actually pretty good... until I hit a wall

Off work again today, so I decided to dedicate most of the day to essay writing. It... sort of worked. I did get a lot done, and I am starting to see the end of the road (thank god), but I sort of hit a brick wall towards the end. You know when you're on Buzzfeed or whatever, with your essay open in another tab, telling yourself you're still working even though you're not? Yeah.

And my lazy mood sort of spread to reading as well, so I didn't manage quite as much as I'd like today. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

I've been reading: Public Library, The View From the Cheap Seats, Harry: A History
Pages read: 131
Total pages read: 306
Essay writing progress; end is in sight, thank goodness

I had work today, so I did a little bit of essay writing when I got home and then took the rest of the night to relax and read. It actually worked out pretty well! I finally achieved the page count goal I set out to do.

I'm still not quite feeling Public Library. Normally I get on with short stories pretty well, but this time I'm just feeling disjointed. I'm loving the little reminiscences about libraries in between the stories though.

I've been reading: Harry: A History, Only Ever Yours
Pages read: 65
Books finished: Harry: A History
Total pages read: 371
Essay writing progress: finally hit the minimum word count on my first one, yay :)

Pretty productive day for reading and essay-writing! Okay, so my page count isn't the best but I did finally finish a book. Harry: A History was wonderful; I learned a lot but I also remembered a lot (remember when someone found Order of the Phoenix in a field before it was released?) It's made me eager to crack on with my Harry Potter reread.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bout of Books 18: Goals, Monday, and Tuesday

Bout of Books 18

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, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th 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 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

(or, in other words, it's an excuse for me to avoid my responsibilities and binge read)

I was in two minds about whether to sign up this time round, as I have two big essays due next week and this week is crunch time for me, but in the past it's actually worked out pretty well for me to have something in my free time to distract me from potential academic doom. And what could be better than reading some awesome books?

I want to read 100 pages a day, or 700 pages total for the week, or finish 3 books. If I achieve any of these goals I'll be thrilled, but mostly I just want to read as much as I can and have fun.

The book pile:
These are all the books I'm currently reading:

(I swear this photo was not taken in a cave)

From top to bottom:

Public Library by Ali Smith: I'm about halfway through. This is a collection of short stories interspersed with thoughts about libraries. I'm enjoying it, but reading it off the back of How to be Both probably wasn't the best idea, because, well, few things live up to that.

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman: Just gone halfway through this. A collection of essays, speeches, and introductions by Neil Gaiman. There's a lot of stuff about writers and things I have no knowledge about, but I'm finding it weirdly compelling all the same. I also have the audiobook of this, should I want to mix it up (mostly I just really love Neil Gaiman's voice, okay)

Harry: A History by Melissa Anelli: I'm about two thirds through this. A history of the Harry Potter fandom, written by the webmistress of one of the biggest HP fansites. Even though I got into HP internet fandom late, there's still a lot of joy and nostalgia and yes I remember that! Super interesting.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill: Only just started this. I loved loved loved O'Neill's Asking For It and this is described as Mean Girls meets The Handmaid's Tale, so how could I not?

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf: Just started this. A feminist classic arguing that beauty is used to control women in the same way domesticity and motherhood has been used in the past. I have a feeling I won't be reading this one much, actually, as I'd like time to read it properly and think about it and digest it. But the notion might take me, so I included it anyway.

I've been reading: The View From the Cheap Seats, Harry: A History
Pages read: 62
Essay writing progress: zilch, oops.

I had an early shift in work today, and my intention was to come home, sleep for a couple of hours and then get stuck into uni work for the rest of the evening. Instead I sort of slept through my uni work time. Oops.

I did get some reading done though! I read a couple of essays from Cheap Seats before that ill-fated nap. I'm on the section "On Comics and Some of the People Who Write Them" and it's all things I know basically nothing about, but I'm enjoying it all the same. It reminds me a bit of Jo Walton's What Makes This Book So Great which I read around this time last year, in that it makes you care about books and authors you've never heard of.

Harry: A History is great too. I'm reading all about the ship wars, something I managed to avoid back in the day (I only really got into internet HP fandom just before Deathly Hallows, when the question of Harry/Hermione or Ron/Hermione was basically settled) but it's funny how it relates to other fandoms I've been part of since. Fans, you crazy bastards.

I've been reading: Only Ever Yours, The Beauty Myth
Pages read; 93
Total pages read: 155
Essay writing progress: much better, thankfully

Today I actually got shit done, which was nice for a change. Okay, so I stayed in bed an extra two hours accidentally this morning, but then I cleaned the mess that is my room and went to Tesco and even got a fair bit of essay writing done. Not to mention very nearly hitting my 100 page target.

It's a very weird experience reading Only Ever Yours and The Beauty Myth back to back. Last night in bed, half asleep, I read about evangelistic weight loss programmes and genuinely thought for a moment I was still reading dystopian fiction... alas, I was not.

Only Ever Yours is really great so far.