Friday, February 10, 2017

Re-readathon: Days 5-8

Day 5
I've been re-reading: The Secret History, Gone Girl
I've been not re-reading: The Sellout, Oroonoko

Pages re-read; 49
Pages not re-read: 126

Books finished: Orooonoko

Total pages re-read: 265
Total pages not re-read: 505

 I realise my attempts to re-read more than I read is going to be foiled by the fact that my uni reading is not re-reads. Oh well.

I fell asleep again this afternoon... whoops. Really must stop doing that. Still super busy with uni work, which is cutting down on my reading time considerably. But I did manage a teeny bit of The Secret History in the morning and a bit of Gone Girl before I went to bed. I'd forgotten how downright unlikeable Nick is. Reading Amy's parts, in light of what I know now, I'm wondering how much of it is actually true.

Day 6

I've been re-reading: Gone Girl, The Secret History
I've been not re-reading: MoranifestoThe Sellout

Pages re-read; 104
Pages not re-read: 150

Books finished: Moranifesto

Total pages re-read: 369
Total pages not re-read: 665

Not a terrible day for reading, especially since I ended up falling asleep super early and sleeping for about 12 hours straight through to next morning. Oh well.

I finished Moranifesto, which I intended to finish before the re-readathon but oh well, better late than never. As always Caitlin Moran is hilarious, but maybe not quite as hilarious in her previous books? I think this might be more to do with more political themes in this one. Hmmm. I enjoyed it very much all the same.

Still liking Gone Girl, still liking The Secret History. I'm realising I have very little memory of what actually goes on in The Secret History beyond, like, the main big things, so that's nice I guess.

Day 7 and 8

I've been re-reading: Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, Gone GirlThe Secret History, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I've been not re-reading: The Sellout (I've also realised I haven't been counting another set text from uni that I've been reading all week, but oh well. Factor in 50ish pages for that!)

Pages re-read; 209 (plus a chapter of Mansfield Park - damn you kindle version and your lack of page numbers!)
Pages not re-read: 150

Total pages re-read: 576
Total pages not re-read: 815

Blogger has been super unco-operative the past few days, so I'm only getting to put this up now!

I started re-reading the first Lumberjanes book because I love them so, and who doesn't love graphic novels for bumping up your word count? Uni also finally came through with Mansfield Park which I can count as a re-read, yay. Since I read it last I have acquired a cat called Thomas which is making the references to Sir Thomas a lot more giggle-inducing. Doesn't help that the book also has a Mrs Norris... Catsfield Park anyone?

The Final Stats
Books read from:
Rereads: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson et al, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Not-rereads: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, Surpassing the Love of Men by Lillian Faderman

Books finished:
No rereads! But I did finish all of my not-rereads which is fairly impressive I hope.

Total pages re-read: 576 plus a chapter of Mansfield Park
Total pages not re-read: 815 plus 50 pages or so of Surpassing the Love of Men

Okay so not re-reads won this round, but I think I can safely blame that on uni. All in all I think I didn't do too badly, considering what a hectic week I've had!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Re-readathon: Days 1-4

Day 1 and 2
I've been re-reading: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I've been not re-reading: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Pages re-read: 94
Pages not re-read: 261

Books finished: Romantic Outlaws, The Wonder

As I've said in my intro post, I was a wee bit late starting the re-readathon due to being in Dublin on Sunday at a gig. I got home from the gig at 3.30 am and had work at 6 am. You do the maths. As a consequence I spent most of Monday after work sleeping.

I also haven't, umm, been re-reading that much. I decided to go ahead and finish two of the books I was currently reading- not re-reads, but still brilliant, so I thought I'd just stick them in my stats for posterity.

Day 3
I've been re-reading: Gone Girl
I've been not re-reading: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Pages re-read; 77
Pages not re-read: 9

Total pages re-read: 171
Total pages not re-read: 270

Okay so purely for gimmicky reasons and also to make it look like I'm reading more than I actually am, I'm going to continue putting my not-rereads in my stats. If at the end of the week the re-read number is higher than the not-re-read, then I'll be happy.

I'm back at uni this week and it's seriously kicking my arse already. I stayed up late tonight finishing my reading because I'm determined not to be behind already in week 1, dammit.

Gone Girl is interesting. It's very weird that I'm picturing the movie characters- having seen the movie since my first read of it- so that's a bit annoying. But I'm already picking up on all the little details that the movie missed. I'll have to rewatch it after I finish rereading it...

Also I think Gone Girl lends itself pretty well to a reread. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that something happens in the middle of it which drastically changes how the first half of it reads... so re-reading the start of it again is interesting, and I can start to unpick things I wasn't aware of the first time around.

Day 4

I've been re-reading: The Secret History
I've been not re-reading: MoranifestoThe Sellout, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Pages re-read; 45
Pages not re-read: 109

Total pages re-read: 216
Total pages not re-read: 379

So after staying up quite late last night I ended up falling asleep after work... whoops. So I spent most of the evening working on uni reading and not re-reading. I've also been reading Moranifesto in a an attempt to finish it and also because the format of short essays which is nice to fit in in my study breaks.

On the actual re-reading front! The Secret History is so good. It's sucking me right in just like last time and it's a great feeling :)

Re-readathon Challenge: Different Perspectives

Welcome to my blog and the second mini-challenge of the re-readathon! Today I'd like you to reflect on different perspectives that a re-read has given you, for the better or for the worse. Maybe you've re-read a book and found it wasn't quite as good as you remembered. Maybe you've re-read a book and found it was actually much better than you first thought. Maybe you've picked up on little details you missed first time around. Good or bad, I want to hear about it!

I thought a lot about what I wanted to talk about today. There's been a lot of books I've reread and picked up different things... but then I thought about 2003, and a time that many people who know me have trouble believing actually happened: a time when I stopped liking Harry Potter.

Dramatic Cat 2013 GIF. Animated gif from the video "Dramatic Cat 2013", starring Mylo the Cat... THATS a dramatic cat

Yep, today I'm going to talk about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and my initial response to it. I've been vaguely ashamed of this in recent years, and I usually write it off as me being young and stupid- but between 2003 and 2005, I was no longer a Harry Potter fan. So when I read Melissa Anneli's wonderful memoir of Harry Potter fandom, Harry: A History earlier this year, I was relieved to discover I wasn't alone.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.jpg

It's important to set the scene. It's 2003. I'm ten years old. I've been a Harry Potter fan since I was six, an impossibly long length of time when you're that age. I gobbled up the first three books when my brother got them for his birthday in 1999. Goblet of Fire's release is still one of my most exciting childhood memories, though I'll never forgive my brother for telling me who won the Quidditch World Cup before I had a chance to read it for myself. I finish the book and I'm burning with excitement: Cedric Diggory is dead, Voldemort is back, and shit is about to get real

I spend the next three years dying of curiosity. I write my own versions and build up the fifth book to impossibly high expectations in my mind. I swallow up as much publicity as I can in my pre-internet fandom glee- the title, the cover art, that someone big is going to die. Then it's released. Just like for Goblet of Fire, my brother and I split our pocket money and share the purchase of Order of the Phoenix, he gets to read it first since he's the faster reader, but when he finally hands it over to me in the early hours of the next morning I'm burning with excitement. 

And then... I'm... underwhelmed. I'd expected something huge and dramatic. Instead we have Harry and his friends stuck at school, nothing really happening beyond flouting the rules of a tyrannical teacher. I skimmed the last few chapters, impatient for what I felt was an overlong book to be over... and then JKR did the unforgivable and killed off one of my favourite characters. 

I was heartbroken. I was angry. I felt like I was living a lie. Was I 'outgrowing' Harry Potter as so many adults had warned me I would? I got really into Lord of the Rings instead.  I stopped my near-continual re-read of the series and didn't even buy Half-Blood Prince when it came out- though I was tantalised by the details. When my friend dropped a massive spoiler- the biggest spoiler of all, you know what I'm talking about- I gave in and had to read it

And I loved it. And I jumped right back onto the wagon again, re-reading Order of the Phoenix and realising that really, it had to happen, that it fit perfectly into the rest of the series. I realised I loved Luna (still do), loved the banding together of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army, finally read the last chapters properly, heart in my mouth because I knew what would happen in the end

I won't lie, it's still not one of my favourite books in the series and I still think it suffers ever-so-slightly from over-padding- but no longer is it the killer of my favourite book series. 

So, tell me your experiences! You need not write an essay like I did. Please do link up your entries or drop me a comment to tell me how your perspective of a book has been changed by a re-read!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Re-readathon: Intro

The re-readathon is finally here! I'm super excited not only because I'm a co-host this time round (!) but also because I'm a big champion of re-reading books. I spend last night pulling books off my shelves and getting excited to reread some of them so I'm raring to go! The re-readathon is basically just an excuse to re-read as much (or as little) as you like for a week. You can sign up at Bex's blog here and share your progress throughout the week with the hashtag #ReReadathon on social media.

The schedule:

I'm going to be pretty absent for today and tomorrow, as I'm going to Dublin tonight to see Conor Oberst, will probably get home late and then have very little sleep before work at 6 am on Monday, and honestly then the rest of Monday will probably just be me sleeping. Fret not, I will reappear before my challenge on Tuesday :) 

Opening Survey

1. Tell us a little about yourself!

Hello! I'm Gee, my pronouns are they/them, and I'm from Belfast. I'm doing a MA in English Literature which starts up again on Monday and I'm super excited. I love cats and am currently addicted to creme eggs.

2. Have you participated in a re-readathon before? How often do you re-read books?

I'm pretty sure I've participated in all of Bex's re-readathon's before, with varying levels of success! I love re-reading and am quite honestly a little puzzled by people who don't. That said, with what I call 'TBR pressure' it's sometimes difficult to find the time to just kick back and re-read old favourites without worrying about all the new books you should be reading instead, so that's why I love re-readathons.

3. What is your current favourite book?

Oh boy, way to put me on the spot. I'm going to go with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë as it's been on my mind a lot lately, what with the excellent BBC drama about the Brontës To Walk Invisible on over Christmas there and fine tuning the details for my Jane Eyre tattoo that I'm hoping to get soon. Erm, yeah, the fact that I'm getting a tattoo should tell you I love that book an inordinate amount. I've read it countless times, studied it at school and uni on three separate occasions and I'm still in awe of it. 

4. What do you love most about re-reading? Or what makes you wish you re-read more?

For the most part, when you're re-reading a book you already know it's going to be awesome. Unless you're re-reading a book and find it isn't quite as good as you remembered, or you're re-reading a book you never liked in the first place... which are different experiences which are also super interesting. Re-reading is a comforting activity for most people I think, and it's one of the things that makes you realise why reading is so important in the first place.

5. What's on your TBR? What are you going to re-read first?

I did post a preliminary TBR a while back but here's my revised version, aka random books I pulled off my shelves at 1 am last night:

The tan-coloured book above The Diary of a Young Girl is T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland and Other Poems but the rest of the titles are fairly easy to see I hope!

I realise this is a massive pile of books and I will certainly only get through a few but it wouldn't be a readathon without a highly over-ambitious book stack now would it? I'm going to be starting with Gone Girl, and I'm very interested to see how/if it holds up now that I know All The Things.

Let the re-reading commence!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal by [Williamson, Lisa]Can I just preface this review by saying that I'm so happy there are so many YA books with trans* characters about at the moment? I was in Waterstones the other day looking for books to spend my Christmas vouchers on (which I still had, for some reason) and I was like oh, look, there's another one. I'm a teeny bit frustrated that they are almost entirely all about trans girls with nary a trans boy to be seen, but I'll let that go for now. I'm happy to see LGBTQ+ fiction expanding in any direction, really.

I picked this up in Tesco a while back super cheap (couldn't resist) but it sort of got swallowed up by my TBR pile until recently, when a friend (who is a trans girl) talked about how she loved it but it took ages to read because it hit just too close to home. So I was intrigued.

The story: David is a closeted trans girl, dodging bullies, longing to express himself, and intrigued by the mysterious new kid Leo. They strike up an unlikely friendship and find they have more in common than they thought.

Sort of spoiler, as apparently it's in the blurb of some editions but not all: Leo turns out to be a trans boy, which was something I liked. Some people have made a deal about how unrealistic it is to have two trans characters at the same school... which, um, no. We are everywhere, I'm afraid, and we tend to band together. Most of my friends from high school came out as gay after we left. I might accuse this book of some lack of realism, but that doesn't count for me. Instead, I think it was a good to get a different perspective and show the range of trans experience that exists- for example, unlike David, Leo's been living as a boy since he was a kid and is currently stealth. His narrative, where he ends up dating a girl who has no idea of his history was interesting.
end spoiler

Really the central focus of this book is David and Leo's friendship and David slowly gaining the courage to be open about who she is. It was something I liked a lot, and while I usually am not a fan of coming out stories (because LGBTQ+ people have other experiences, omg) this was a damn good one, which I'll happily make an exception for. Some people have criticised the ending as a bit too good to be true... and I think I agree with that to a certain extent. But I'm okay with that, because in real life things do often turn out better than you expected and I'm all for a message of optimism.

What really struck me when I was reading this was the depiction of dysphoria, which my friend and I agreed is heartbreakingly realistic. David struggles with her body changing and the part that really got me was when her sister gets her first period, and David realises this is something he can never experience. It's all so spot on I was surprised that the author Lisa Williamson is not trans herself- although she did work in a GIC and has clearly done her research. Bravo for that, because while I think we all agree that trans people writing about trans people is the best scenario (and same with any diverse lit really) I am all for sensitive, well-researched books like this.

So. Totally recommended, especially if you're not familiar with trans things and are into reading more LGBTQ+ books :)