Summer Reading List

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I went from like 0 to 100 real quick. I typically just break my reading lists down into 6-8 week chunks, but for some reason I’ve decided to go from here in May all the way through to August, which is over a quarter of the year.

The reason for this? I could not think of a title for this one and then another one at a later date and so I bunged them all into one. I don’t even know how my logic is going to work for this one. I average at a book a week and so there are 18 weeks I am playing with here. So I’m gonna take 18 and then tack on an extra 7 and make it 25 for no actual reason to be perfectly honest. Like I said logic has gone all the way out of the window.

I don’t know how this going to make the overall goal seem less daunting given how many books I’m going for here, but hey. We’re doing this. So let’s do this.

Also, I feel like I should mention that although these are all listed apparently I am prone to doing shit on a whim and could just throw in a book that I didn’t even list in the original post. Also, I only read 6 books on my last one of these so those are being rolled over to some other time, that is apparently not during this period of time…

1-5) The Red Queen Series – Victoria Aveyard

There are 5 books in this series, I’m gonna try and read it straight through, but that might not happen and there might be a couple of books thrown in the mix, depending on how I mesh with the series. I do know that when I was moving through Rebel earlier in the year, it felt great to read them all straight through, but it did feel kind of exhausting only being in that world for like a month. It’s the same reason I couldn’t read The Mortal Instruments straight through as 6 books and had to break it into two trilogies. So currently I plan to go straight through, but yeah, that might not happen. They will however all be read.

6) Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

I just wanna read this book. I wanna watch the film and I’m doing this thing where my brain won’t let me do that without having read the book first. Why I don’t know, it’s just a thing that my brain does to me sometimes.

7) the witch doesn’t burn herself in this one – amanda lovelace

I enjoyed her first collection, I’m excited to see what her second will bring.

8) The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron

This book was given to me by someone at work and although they haven’t asked me about what I thought of it again yet (because they have done a couple of times already now) I don’t trust that they won’t ask again and so I wanna be able to finally be like ‘oh I thought this…’

9-10) The Conquerer’s Saga – Kiersten White

I dropped Now I Rise earlier this year so that I could finish the series straight through and well the final book is due out during this period of time and so the time has now come.

11) The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

This won an award in Waterstones, and I’m hoping that I will mesh with it a bit better than I did Ink and Stars which won the same award and left me feeling confused.

12) Everless – Sara Holland

The concept of this book remains the most fascinating to me and so I need to get it in my life. My edition of this book is due to be with me during this time so I can just slot it in when I get it in my clutches.

13)  The Belles – Dohnielle Clayton

This is another book that is just mocking me on my bedroom floor looking all pretty and shit and so I am going to read it. Again, this is a book that intrigues me.

14) Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Look, let’s just get this over with shall we. Maybe not the correct attitude to take when trying to read a book, but the one I have nonetheless. Something about me and this book do not mesh well. Or at least we haven’t in the past.

15) Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen Degeneres

There has been no non-fiction on this list thus far which is a total contrast to the last one and so I am here to remedy that with this.

16) Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

I don’t really know how I feel about reading this book anymore, but nevertheless it feels like something that I am feeling compelled to read. So I’m gonna do in prep for the second season of the show coming out.

17) Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

And here is another autobiography from someone who’s first one I very much enjoyed. I just enjoy Mindy Kaling.

18) The Defining Decade – Meg Jay

I’m reaching the middle point of being in my 20’s in every sense during the summer (like I’m going to reach being halfway through being 25 come July) so it feels like a fitting book to read for the time.

19) Lost Boy – Christina Henry

I remain optimistic about this book despite how I felt with the last book of hers that I read. And I’m interested as to how the story is going to be flipped and made super dark.

20) The Crucible – Arthur Miller

I’m gonna go in with this. I may regret it, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

21-23) Roxane Gay

I’m gonna treat this like a trilogy of sorts and read all 3 books that I have by Gay slated to read this year in one go. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. But they will all be read.

24) The Sun and Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

And just like that, I’ve run out of poetry collections to read for the year (not strictly true, I have one on pre-order, but that’s not due until the last quarter of the year)

25) Runaways – Rainbow Rowell

And so we come to the last book on this long ass list. It’s a comic book. It’s Rainbow Rowell, I can’t see what’s not to like there.

And there it is. A somewhat lengthy breakdown of my reading list for this year and what shall be getting me through the summer months.

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And so we have come to the final day of this little blogging project and all talk about self care. It’s been quite the whirlwind. It also kind of made me confront some things about myself that I hadn’t ever really thought about and in that way in some way was just a very good exercise in self care and reminding me to take care of my mental health a bit better. Because throughout this whole thing I have noticed that I have been letting it slip a little bit and I am trying to avoid what happened last year and get my shit kind of back together when it comes to my mental health.

However this little project has also taught me that the way that I deal with my mental health has gotten a lot better. It left me a really shitty place for a lot of last year and that has definitely stopped being the case. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not really all that great and there are still days where it feels like a long hard slog up a mountain with the wrong kit on but those days seem to be happening far less than they used to.

For a while last year it was pretty much every single day from the moment I woke up to the moment that I feel into a really half assed sleep. It was constant and it was exhausting and I had to swim really fast just to keep the illusion that I was staying afloat alive when really I just wanted to quit and let the water take me for a little while.  But I am not there anymore.

Not even close really.

It’s kind of incredible how slowly my mindset has changed, so much so that to be honest I hadn’t even noticed it had happened until I started really thinking about it. It was only then that I could truly appreciate just how far I had come and just how much better my mindset is. I feel happier and more assured in myself in a lot of ways and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed by it. I feel a lot more confident in certain areas of my life. I’ve kind of learned to just let some water slide off my back and ignore it. Some things are just not worth engaging in and I’m finally okay with that. I’ve stopped being so in my own about certain things and am getting a lot better at remembering that honestly, some things just  aren’t that deep.

I know that there are still some areas where I do need to make some more improvements and I would quite like to know that the chances of me having to move through a small scale version of a panic attack in the toilet at work is not quite as high as it currently is. And I really need to manage my stress levels a little better, because they can soar real quickly and then I just feel even more exhausted by it all.

And I also know that right now I am in a better state of mind when it comes to the idea of dealing with the areas of my mental health that are still hella weak. Which I hadn’t really noticed or appreciated until I took part in this project for myself.

This has made me appreciate the state of my mental health in a way that I don’t give myself enough credit for.

That’s been my may take away from this actually. I really need to get better and giving myself more credit and to also appreciate the ones around me an awful lot more. That last one is just a general thing though, and I knew that before doing this project, it’s just really driven that home for me.

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I would not consider myself to be a very brave person.

I don’t even really know where to start with it.

I am very content with just sticking well within my comfort zone and then living there.

Although as I say that I also kind of have to acknowledge that there are parts and aspects of my life that have required bravery and for the most part I did the things that could be considered kind of brave with almost no second guessing.

For example, I moved hundreds of miles away from the life that I had lived for 18 years and went and lived in a city where I knew no one for the three years that I went to uni. It never even really occurred to me to not leave London. There is a part of me that knows that I a Londoner to my core and I am most likely never gonna not live here and so uni felt like the perfect time to move away. It was always going to be for a limited period of time and it was kind of just what I needed. It taught me a lot about myself. Mainly that I am stronger than I ever imagined I would be.

Another example is the fact that I joined a gym. I mean I am no longer at the gym that I went to because I hated it and I found something better that I enjoy and am always motivated to do, but I joined. Which may not seem like a big thing to some people, but I had joined a gym before and a grand total of once. This time I actually stuck to it. I tried to ignore the fact that I had no idea what I was dong amongst people who looked like they really had their shit together and I tried. And found that I could actually call exercise an outlet for my stress and anxiety. It’s now something that I pretty much cannot compromise on in my day to day to life. And I am way more open to trying new things when it comes to exercise then I ever thought I would be.

I am very reluctant to put myself out there because I find it exhausting for the most part, but I have noticed over the past 3 or so years that I am getting better at doing it. At trying things that before I would have said no to. At trying to be better at saying yes, which is kinda hard because I’ve been so good at being a ‘no’ person for so many years now.

But nothing great tends to happen when you exist in your comfort zone and there alone and I need to use that as a motivator for other things in my life that I kind of want to see change in. I need to be brave about it.

And for the first time I feel like I am actually in a place where I can be that and it isn’t such a terrifying idea….

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I am not a very good talker.

I am so much better at just bottling shit up. I did it for years. I still do it. It will pretty much take for me to reach an actual breaking point of sorts before I am finally just like, wow I should really talk to someone about this.

I just don’t really like doing it.

It feels like whining to me.

I don’t even really know why, but whenever I do start talking about myself or whatever it is that is bothering me I just start thinking ‘wow I should really shut up I am being so self centred’. And a lot of the time I’m actually not. I am just getting something off my chest and clearing the air in my own head. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In fact it’s rarely a bad thing.

Talking about it does help, and I know that it does, but for some reason there is still this barrier in my head that means that I don’t like doing it. It means putting myself out there and I do not like doing that. It stresses me out. It leaves me vulnerable. It means that for some strange reason I feel weak. Which makes literally no sense to anyone really, including myself. Because rationally I am very aware that admitting that you need help or just someone to open up to then it is not a weakness. It’s a strength. It’s okay to not be okay and I do know that.

But actually saying it out loud changes the damn game. In almost every way.

It’s that final barrier. There is no coming back from it once it’s been said out loud. And it’s that that kind of terrifies me in a lot of ways.

Having said all that however I mean I have talked about it. I had to do a lot of talking about it last year because I was driving myself insane and making myself actually unwell and I needed it to stop. So I talked about it and it felt like a weight had been lifted. One that continues to feel like it has been lifted whenever I find myself talking about it again. Not even so much talking, more like just admitting that I’m going through a little rough patch right now. Just not ignoring it and burying my head under the sand and pretending that everything is okay. Just actually saying ‘not really’ when someone asks if I’m alright and then just letting that be the answer and accepting it. It feels really damn great. And it continues to feel great.

And I wouldn’t have got to this stage if I hadn’t taken my mental health seriously last year and fully accepted that I had reached my damn breaking point with it all.

Is it annoying that I had to get to that almost rock bottom stage first? Yes. Am I glad it happened though? Also yes.

It led me to accepting that sometimes you just nee to talk it out and as such I have now gotten a lot better at doing so.

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I am not a huge dreamer.

Both in the sleep dream sense and in the dreams/hopes for the future sense.

I don’t even really know why (about the latter).

Maybe because I don’t like to work in things that aren’t solid. Which is actually maybe the dumbest thing that I could actually say in the world because the thing that I want to do kind of exists solely in a realm that is both real but then also is not quite real.

I think ultimately what it boils down to is fear.

I’m kind of scared to dream.

Because dreams can fail and they can disappear and they can become something else. They are intangible. They are an unknown.

There is a very large part of my brain that does not like working in the unknown. It makes me sweaty. It makes me feel light headed and short of breath. It basically makes me just feel a lot of things that are all heading in the way of a panic attack and therefore I try and avoid them as much as possible. That seems like a healthy choice to make for yourself right?

But in some ways it also means that I just spend a lot of time in my comfort zone. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it’s kind of limiting.

But it also feels safe.

It comes with almost no risk. And therefore almost no chance of me feeling overwhelmed as hell and running the risk of falling over some kind of ledge. Which I don’t think is a bad thing.

But it’s also not a good thing.

But the overall problem is that I just don’t want to pin any kind of hopes on a dream. Because there is a part of me that isn’t rational enough at this present moment in time to accept that dreams morph and change and become something else as time moves on and the goalposts change. It would feel to much like failure and the fall from that reality is hard and I don’t want to go through it.

I guess ultimately it comes from a place of damage control.

I have been slack with the personal damage control before and it felt really shitty when I fell down and I don’t particularly like the idea of going back there.

But I also know that deep down I have to go back to that almost place. I have to accept that sometimes I will fail and that it’s not actually the end of the world. It just sometimes feels like that. I need to acknowledge that I am for sure stronger than I think I am and if that turns out not to be true then I will find a new level to the strength that I have.

I need to stop being scared and letting my anxiety rule that part of my life, because it’s not really doing me any good and deep down I know that.

So that’s my current aim/goal/plan.

To starting actually dreaming properly in a way that actually means something slightly more legit then what I do currently. Which is to think the thought and then quickly dismiss it.

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I was originally gonna do something like write a letter to my past or future self for this particular prompt, but I’ve done both of those things a couple of time before and I when I started really thinking about it I realised that I don’t really have anything else to say about to either of those versions of myself that I haven’t said already and so it therefore meant that I was kind of at a loss.

Those letters that I have written to myself in the past have been hugely helpful for me in processing my own thoughts and feelings about myself and what I felt about myself and it allowed me to see progress in myself that I had never really stopped to think about before and it was then that I finally accepted that there had been progress in this whole messy thing called life. When I realised that there had been progress it felt like a weight had been lifted and I couldn’t take it for granted.

But then I did. I got complacent and thought that if I had already hit a rock bottom of sorts then I wasn’t going to do it again. I was so wrong that it was almost funny. Except for the fact that it wasn’t. It was actually kind of tragic and I didn’t have what turned out to be a advantage that I was at uni. I was at work. I had to be a person 5 days a week. I had to make it through each work day when every single one task I had to do felt like an uphill battle. Looking back at it now a year later I can see that that was actually an advantage in some ways because it meant that I couldn’t wallow. I had to try and be okay and that in some ways saved me a lot this time. I needed the distraction and I became weirdly thankful that it came at a time when I was employed and had such a distraction an also a time when I was confident enough in my ability to actually do my job and get it done properly even though it as a clusterfuck of a nightmare in my head. If had happened at any other time in the two years prior to that then I probably would have lost it completely. But I didn’t and that feels like a win.

It still feels like a win.

Every time I feel myself having a wobble and know that I have gotten through worse before it feels like a win. A win that I never take for granted. Especially when I find myself being reflective which I was when I wrote letters to my past self.

The future ones are always a little bit more interesting just because I can only look at it from a place of hope. Which is nigh on impossible when the one and only time I wrote a letter to my future self I was not necessarily in the best place. I mean it contained a lot of things that I do wish for myself, but they came from a very fake place. They came from a place of what I thought I should want for myself. Full of half truths. Things that I mean with so much more conviction now because I’ve come further along in my own mind and with my sense of self. Things that I cold actually believe in.

That’s why I didn’t write a 2.0 version of a letter to myself for this prompt. I’ve already done one. It was kind of a lie in terms of the place that I wrote it from but the sentiment remains the same and if I were to write it again now it would remain exactly the same, I would just believe it a bit more now.

And to know that would be the case is freeing like you wouldn’t believe and feels like a sign of where I am right now with everything.

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Funny Memory

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For some reason when I saw this little prompt as it were I immediately for very defensive of every memory that I hold dear to me. For no real reason.

Maybe it’s because they are mine and they are the ones that I go to when things are feeling particularly shitty and I think on some level that sharing them would make them less funny to me.

Also a lot of my funny memories make no fucking sense without context.

For example, last year when we were at Gatwick waiting for a gate for our flight to Kos and were just chilling in duty free when there was an announcement for someone named Greg. And then another one about a minute later. And then another one. And another one. And then they stopped. But at some point during this time we started laughing and said #freegreg. It makes no sense to anyone else.

See also the fact that sometimes we laugh hysterically about whales because of one too many conversations had in the early hours of the morning where we’re both a little bit delirious. And also dolphins. And turtles. There’s a lot of ocean based creatures that we find hilarious these days.

I honestly go on and on.

There are a lot.

And not just with R.

There’s some random shit with my brother. There’s stuff with people at work (Miss Vanjie exists even there, I am one of two people who understand it). There’s stuff with my parents.

There’s loads of it.

And they’re hilarious to me. But seriously for a lot of them you have to be there in order to find them even remotely funny. And that’s not funny to other people. Which is why this one stumped me.

I, fortunately, have a great pool of memories that I can pull from that can get me out of a little bit of a funk if I need to.

And I am fine with no one but one other person in this world knowing why the sea is so damn salty…

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