Playlist for a Book: Song of Achilles

For my tiny gay Spartans.

 

song-of-achilles-1

 

Born to Die – Lana Del Rae

Warriors – Imagine Dragons

Stronger – Kelly Clarkson

If I Loved You – Delta Rae

Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon

Even Though You’re Gone – Angelis

Angel Down – Lady Gaga

Various Storms and Saints – Florence + The Machine

Red – Tyler Ward

 

Listen to it on Spotify here

 

October ’16 Wrap-Up

Books Bought

  • Bee Journal, Sean Borodale
  • The Gallery of Lost Species, Nina Berkhout
  • The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby
  • Dior by Dior, Christian Dior
  • Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • George and Sam, Charlotte Moore
  • Adulthood is a Myth, Sarah Anderson
  • Love Poems, Carol Ann Duffy

 

Books Read

  • The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby
  • The Bookshop, Penelope Fitzgerald
  • The Watcher in the Shadows, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Adulthood is a Myth, Sarah Anderson
  • Love Poems, Carol Ann Duffy

 

To start out, yes, I have completely stolen this format from Hornby’s Polysyllabic Spree. No I am not sorry. It’s a damn good format.

This month was a bit strange for reading as it was the month I started back at university, so although I finished The Raven King fairly early on in October, every other book on the ‘read’ list was finished from the 30th onward (although I must add that most of these were books I had already started in previous months but not finished – if only I had the ability to read five books in two days!).

I had pre-ordered The Raven King on kindle before it came out way back in April, but for some reason despite my great love for this series I just never seemed to pick it up. But eventually I did finish it, and thankfully it was the beautifully written, climactic end to the series that I was hoping for – although now I’m just disappointed I can’t read any more about the exploits of these wonderful characters. Perhaps now would be the time to invest in physical copies and re-read them?

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree was a book I ran across quite by chance through a reblogged Tumblr quote, and I’m so glad I decided to give this book a go. It’s a collection of Hornby’s columns for the Believer where he chronicles his reading experience month by month, listing ‘books bought’ and ‘books read’ as above – and it was so great to find a kinship with another reviewer with a compulsion for buying more books that one could ever hope to finish in a lifetime, but that look rather impressive stacked in the living room – and consequently I added George and Sam and Random Family to my ever growing TBR after his glowing reviews of each.

The Bookshop is a tiny volume of literary fiction about a woman who opens a bookshop in a conservative small town in the south of England. Rather than being a fluffy number about the power of books that most such novels are, it’s quite a melancholy story about the ‘cultured’ vs. ‘uncultured’ (with the former being spiteful characters and the latter being lovely and kind-hearted, if adverse to buying books) and the pettiness of small town politics. It was definitely not what I was expecting to find when I cracked back the covers, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable and cleverly written book packed into 120 pages.

The Watcher in the Shadows is a book I’ve had on my shelves since Christmas 2014 – yes, yes, I’m a terrible person, blah blah blah – and although it showed dramatic and suspenseful story-telling, I’m not all that sure if it was worth waiting two years to get through. I didn’t realise until the end that it was supposed to be aimed at a younger audience, which does very much explain my overall reaction of ‘it was a pretty cool idea and well written but nothing to write home about’.

Adulthood is a Myth is a great little collection of Anderson’s comics, a lot of which I’d already seen floating around the internet but still make me laugh. I technically bought this book for my boyfriend, but I ended up just reading the whole thing over his shoulder. Every panel is funny, relatable (a particular favourite panel of mine involves a girl hiding under the covers shouting NOOOOOOO) and is such a great book to be able to flick through if you’re in need of a fast pick me up.

I’ve loved Carol Ann Duffy for years now, but I picked up Love Poems as I feel like I’ve only really experienced downbeat pieces of hers. As always she’s witty and clever, and not every poem is a mushy declaration of passion, but instead many are filled with narrative and more complex feelings that come hand in hand with love, such as jealousy, guilt, and sometimes, indifference. My particular favourite was one called Tea, which is probably one of the only poems I’ve read with such a sweet and innocent sentiment that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve just swallowed a spoonful of jam.

 

What books have you been reading this month?

 

 

Consumerism in the Bookish Community

I’ve felt for a while, especially as someone who mainly interacts with the book blogging community through Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube, that there seems to be an overwhelming emphasis on the attainment, rather than the enjoyment, of books.

 

Although I appreciate a good shelfie as much as the next bookworm – especially as they work as fantastic inspiration for how to organise my cheap ikea shelves in increasingly creative ways – hauls, posts about spending ‘every last penny’ a month on new releases and crazy TBR piles are far more common than fan art, reviews, or even discussions (obviously this is just my own personal experience of the community, which I appreciate depends entirely on who I’m following. Although I do completely relate to an overwhelming need to obtain works of literature, and therefore end up with shelves upon shelves of unread novels, we seem as a group to be not only normalising this behaviour, but encouraging it – the true mark of the modern bookworm is the one that is excessively spending and collecting.

 

I also see a lot of positivity posts on Tumblr regarding bookworms that can’t afford the latest releases, or special editions, or that worship their local library. Although I think these are fantastic, and it’s important to make any community feel welcoming and accessible to people from all backgrounds and lifestyles, there is still a heavy emphasis on can’t. That these people can’t afford these habits, that they would given they had the opportunity to. What about those who don’t want to?

 

This kind of conspicuous consumption is also encouraged by societal assumptions, where the reading of books, and even literacy itself, has for centuries been viewed as an occupation of the cultured and the academic in most societies. Where a fashion blogger who owned 200 pairs of shoes that she hardly ever wore would probably be ridiculed by others outside of that community as vapid and as wasting money (note that I’m not saying this is an appropriate reaction, but that’s for another post), whereas a book blogger with 200 unread books is seen as completely normal and relatable, and likely as intelligent and worldly by someone outside of it.

 

I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of these actions myself – far from it. But when you’re fighting a battle to actually appreciate and make use of the things you already own or can borrow from the library, it’s difficult to fight that wasteful, consumerist urge when it’s seen as normal and enviable in your online circles.

 

I’d love to know everyone else’s thoughts on the matter, so please feel free to join in on this discussion!

How to Keep Reading on a Busy Schedule

 

Since coming to university, I was worried that I would lose the time to keep up with reading new releases and tackling my TBR on top of everything I needed to read for my classes, working a part time job, and just generally having more social commitments. What I’ve actually managed to do, however, is hugely increase the number of books I’m reading per year, despite having things booked in almost every day of the week. I thought it might be good to make a quick list of the things I’ve been doing to fit my main hobby into a busier lifestyle, and to maybe help some people who aren’t managing to get as much done as they’d like.

 

Read on Public Transport

Seriously, this where I get most of my reading done. Although since first year I don’t actually take the bus to university anymore (but when I did, even five minutes a day got me through a lot), I do still take the train to visit family and friends. Since I generally can’t get any internet on trains, and I’m surrounded by strangers rather than friends, it’s such a great, uninterrupted stretch of time where you can read in peace.

 

Listen to Audiobooks

Although I don’t do this as much, I know my boyfriend reads (listens?) to most of his books this way. Audiobooks are great instead of music on your walk to college/work/a friend’s house for pizza, and you can get through one in no time if you have it on whenever you’d normally listen to music. They’re also great for when you’re tidying or doing chores, because it means you’re actually doing something semi-fun when doing the dishes.

 

Take a Book Everywhere

Although I know most die-hard bookworms do this, carrying a book or an e-reader in your bag wherever you go really does come in handy. You never know when you’ll have ten minutes to kill while waiting for someone, or you may just get to a lecture early and want something to do other than endlessly scrolling through Tumblr on your phone. Cramming in a few pages in a break that only lasts a minute or two can still get you further through your current read.

 

Prioritise it

Even just making sure you take half an hour a day – maybe with breakfast, or before you go to bed – can be a great way to get a huge chunk of a book read, and it a great way to switch off and relax for a little bit. This generally will mean sacrificing a little time that you might otherwise spend watching Netflix or Facebook, but it almost always feels more productive. If you do read before bed, it’s actually better for your sleep pattern if you’re staring at a page rather than a screen; that is, as long as you don’t hit on a plot twist at midnight and have to keep reading.

 

Stay Active in the Community

I’ve found that since running a book blog, not only the number of books I’ve read has risen, but so has my motivation to read. Just by browsing a few blogs, joining Goodreads, or just having BookTubers on in the background really motivates me to shut off the computer and read afterwards. It’s also meant that I’ve met a lot of amazing bookish people that I can chat/fangirl/cry to about new books, or even find readalongs or readathons, giving you a set timeframe in which to read, with the bigger reward of being able to share it with other people who will get just as excited as you.

 

Hope you guys have found this helpful!

What ways do you keep on top of your TBR when you’re busy?

Book Cake Tag

 

This tag was originally posted by suddenlylorna on YouTube – it’s a great video so you should check it out!

 

 

Self-Raising Flour: A book that was slow to start but picked up later

Although I completely adore these books, I’m going to go with the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I found the first few chapters of Shadow and Bone to be a lot more serious and dry than the majority of the series. Saying that, when I hit the 50 page mark I flew threw it and couldn’t put it, or the rest of the series, down at all.

 

Margerine – A book with a really rich plot

The first thing that came to mind here was His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. I’ve read and reread this trilogy over and over again, and it still amazes me how beautiful and dangerous and fantastic his universe and story are – even when a large chunk of it takes place in modern day Oxford. It’s something wholly original and avoids so many fantasy tropes that this is a stand out for me in terms of the richness of plot.

 

Eggs – A book you thought was going to be bad but turned out to be good

Purely because I don’t usually enjoy YA romances – especially ones with protagonists as seemingly twee as Lara Jean – I honestly thought I would hate To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, but I picked it up because so many people were raving about it on Tumblr. I was sucked in immediately and was really charmed by Lara Jean and her family, and it was such a lovely and easy book to read.

 

Sugar – A very sweet book

Hands down this had to go to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It’s such a gorgeous romance, and although the plot was in some ways predictable, the prose and characters were wonderfully original and it had completely melted my heart by the end. It was also lovely to read an LGBTQ+ romance with a wholesome happy ending!

 

Icing – A book that had everything you enjoy in a good novel

Despite wanting to say the enitre Harry Potter series, I’d have to go for  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. This has always been my favourite book of the series, probably because all of the characters begin to be rounded out a bit more as they grow up, it’s the introduction of the Marauders and it has an intrigue that isn’t necessarily there in the other books in the series. Plus Hippogriffs.

 

Sprinkles – A book or series you turn to for a pick-me-up

I always love flying through The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. I have so  many different editions of this book, and although I love The Lord of the Rings it’s not exactly a series I can quickly get through to make myself feel better. The Hobbit is just a fun, light book (aside from the ending – but I can just pretend that it doesn’t happen) and is a great escape into Middle Earth on a bad day.

 

Cherry on top – Favourite book so far this year

I’ve got to say this book simply because I rave about it to anyone who’ll listen – Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. This book of poetry was like being hit in the chest with a ton of bricks, and in the half hour it took me to read it I was in tears on almost every page. Although a difficult and heartbreaking read, it’s a fantastically eye-opening book, and is something that I’d go far as to say everyone, regardless of gender, needs to read.

 

Because I’m posting this on both WordPress and Tumblr I have people I’d want to tag on both platforms, so instead I’m tagging everyone who wants to do it!

Easy to Read Classics

So, I basically love reading everything. Literally everything. YA, contemporary, mystery, thriller, non fiction, literary fiction – but my honest to God first love with books is classics.

Although when I’ve got a huge TBR to tackle I tend to stay with quick, easy books, most of them new releases, I have a few classics that I keep going back to and that are easy to understand and always keep me engaged.

 

Jane Eyre

This is hands down one of my favourite books of all time. I was about 11 when I first read it, and I was struck by how normal  Jane  was, and how raw her emotions were. Because the narrative starts off when Jane is still a child, the language is much simpler, and only becomes slightly more complex when she reaches adulthood. The characters are well defined, the story is dramatic and iconic, and the feminist MC makes this a book I can just fly through in a couple of sittings.

 

Sense and Sensibility

Although I do love Pride and Prejudice, this Austen work is one that I completely fell in love with when I read it a few years ago. As it’s slightly lesser known than P&P, the plot is more of a surprise than expected and has wonderfully sassy female leads. Austen generally is very easy to understand and read given the time period in which she was writing, but the stories and characters are still wonderfully complex and engaging.

 

The Picture of Dorian Grey

Basically the gayest book ever written, with a wonderfully conceited MC. The writing is beautiful and poetic, but Wilde never obscures his meaning with over flowery language, only adds to it. Although the text is more dense than some of the others on this list, the book is much shorter with (sometimes) better pacing.

 

1984

Although this is such an iconic book with a constantly referenced premise (Big Brother, anyone?), the plot is still thrilling and surprising, with succinct but well crafted prose. As it’s set in what designed to be a dystopian future, it’s so easy to get lost in the sinister society Orwell creates in this surprisingly short book.

 

Little Women

Despite being a fairly hefty book, because this novel is aimed at a younger audience the language and plot are a breeze to get through. I adored this book when I was still in primary and I adore it even more now; I immediately connected with all the sisters, and their first Christmas in the book is so pure and lovely that this is such an escapist book to me. What I love is that it’s not all twee, either – tragedy does strike, and the drama is so real and personal.