Books, My Life

Changing Attitudes to Literature

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I wrote this title and then nothing else, leaving present me to try and figure out what the fuck the brainwave was that prompted this title. I think I’ve figured it out though.

Or maybe I haven’t and past me is hella pissed at present me for doing this to her post.

Basically I think what I was banging on about was how the way that I view literature has changed.

I used to be very limited in terms of what books I would be willing to read and I kind of didn’t move away from that. I hung about in the YA section for years, and still do, but I only really went with authors that I trusted and stuck with topics that I kind of felt safe with. I read many a variation of teenagers falling in love. I considered Hunger Games a real step out of the box.

I was comfortable in that.

And then I did A Level English and I kind of had to force myself to read a bit differently. Find books related to one topic (one year war, the other year love. One year was reeaalllll cheery…) and then read them so I had a better chance at doing well in the exam. I had to read a lot of classics that I never even would have considered. I read a lot more poetry then I ever have before. I started looking at literature with a more critical eye.

And then I had the crazy idea to do a degree in it and that came with it’s own reading lists as well. And meant that I had to widen my horizons even further. I had to read a lot of books that I never even thought of reading before, at one point I had a whole week that was all about Chick Lit which was just never on my radar. It opened me up to a whole new variety of books that I would have just passed whenever I went into a Waterstones.

Once it became apparent that I had opened the floodgates then a whole bunch of new genres were open to me and then everything got stressful. Because now I have soooo many books to choose from and I want to read everything. And the list just seems to get longer and longer each day.

But on the other hand, there are still books and genres that haven’t been able to win me over completely yet. Like historical fiction for the most part. There are some areas of fantasy and sci-fi that are a bit too sci-fi-y for me and something that I can’t quite mesh with yet. I also don’t do horror. Yet. I mean I wanna read IT so I feel like that might change.

Basically I have stopped writing off genres because I realised throughout the latter stages of my education that I was limiting so much potentially good literature. I was missing out on potentially finding my new favourite book. Like The Night Circus. That book very much fucks with fantasy and yet it could have been something that I never read because the extent of my dalliance with that was just Harry Potter. Same goes for The Bone Season. Or The Graces. In fact I’m going to stop listing all the potential books that I could have missed out on because I could go on for a while.

It also meant that I didn’t limit myself to sticking to genres so much anymore. I’m in my mid-20’s and yet I will always spend an equal amount of time in the YA section as I do the ‘adult’. I am drawn to covers in a big and I rarely read blurbs anymore. I like the surprise of going into a new book. For the most part these days I don’t even truly register what section of the bookshop I’m in. I just pick up a book, judge it by its cover and then sometimes fall hard and fast in love with it.

This very much only applies to novels at the moment. My relationship with poetry is relatively minimal and the only plays that I really get involved with are written by Shakespeare and then you can chuck in the odd Pinter play too. So, that’s something that I am consciously trying to introduce into my reading habits because I know that I am missing on some great stuff there.

Like I said, it’s kind of horrifying having so many options because I’m terrible with options, but it’s also great because I have so many options.

I’ve questioned quite a bit whether an English degree was the right move for me for countless reasons, but the one thing that I am thankful for is that it forced me out of my old reading habits and introduced me to new things and it instilled a greater want to dive further into some genres and to really try an unearth my new favourite book.

What about you? Has the books that you’ve been drawn changed a lot over the years?

Parentheses count: 1. See you tomorrow!

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Books, Reading Challenge

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

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This title is way more dramatic than necessary to be honest.

I basically run out of ideas and then had to frantically search for them on the internet because I was one post short for the month. And then I found it.

I am going to list my top 3 favourite books from this year (so far) and also my 3 least favourites. Now I am fully aware that I have still got 4 and a half books left to go with this year, but I know what lies ahead of me and I don’t really see them being contenders for either of these (I’m reserving judgement on Florence Grace because I don’t actually know whether I do hate it, I only read 20 pages and the book just didn’t come at the right time). So I feel like I am in a place to do a mini final, semi overall, review of my 2017 read books.

Top 3

1) The Graces – My gosh did I love this book. It was all things witchy and dark and so many other things that I just love about literature and all that jazz. Ugh, it introduced me to so many great new characters and a delightful new world and I am so excited for the sequel.

2) And I Darken – I fell in love with this book so hard and fast it was just so great. It’s kind of a genre that I don’t really tend to mess with as I try and avoid things that play too much with historical elements because that’s just not my thing. I dunno, a module at uni nearly 6 years ago really did history in for me and I just can’t cope with it or something.

3) The Muse – Okay, so it was a toss up between this and Nevernight but this won. It took me on so many twists and turns. It caused me to react so many times and it made me feel some kind of way. It also gave me a chance to return to Burton’s writing.

Bottom 3

1) Holding up the Universe – It’s not that I hated this book, but also it didn’t really leave any impact on me at all. It wasn’t a YA book that I feel needs to be read. Or at least it wasn’t when I read it.

2) Our Chemical Hearts Kind of the same as above.

3) Grimm’s Fairytales – Honestly, there was no need for me to read of them to be brutally honest. They made no impact for the most part and the ones that I knew, well I know them pretty damn well. It took me weeks to make it from cover to cover and I’m so glad that it’s finally done and I never have to do it again…

And there we have it.

I mean honestly I have loved quite a few books that I’ve read this year, so I feel like that Top 3 is an ever changing beast. But at this present moment in time this is where we stand.

Do you have any favourite/least favourite reads?

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 9

Dear Autumn,

So I was writing a review for Sweaty Betty the other day (because what I really needed was another pair of leggings and sports bra) and there’s this little ‘about you’ section that you can fill out next to it and it mentions what activity you do and then it levels you in terms of front, middle or back of class.

It was that part that got me.

I’ve never really put that much thought into what part of the room I stand says about me. I kind of didn’t think it really said anything about me. I just always kind of dropped my bags at the back of the room and then turned around and set up shop wherever that was. Which was almost always at the back of the room. I think part of me had convinced myself that it just made the most sense. If there’s a lot of floor work then it makes sense to be at the back of the room because I take up a lot of space and the back of the room makes that easier to accommodate…in my head.

It turns out that it was probably just another level of a confidence thing that I’d never really thought about before. If I’m at the back of the room then it’s harder for me to get called out for stuff or for other people to notice me. Which is both a good and a bad thing I guess. I can’t get called out on my form if they can’t see me properly, or for giving up a little prematurely (which happens less these days, but still happens). However it has also made sure that I work on making sure that my form isn’t shit and really giving up before the set is done is cheating nobody but myself.

But anyway, back to the confidence thing. Turns out it was that. This past week I’ve forced myself to move further forward in the room, and twice now I’ve ended up straight in front of the instructor. Which horrified me in some ways because they were right. there.

Funnily enough though it turned out fine. My body is waaayyyy ahead of my mind in terms of knowing what it is capable of and actually getting it done. I spent most of Thursday super non-excited for my Lift class that night because Aunt Flow decided she was going to be early and it was too late to cancel so I had to do when all I really wanted to do was go home and be a sloth, but come that evening while I was loading up the barbell I felt the endorphins do their thing and the 45 minutes flew by. Plus on some level it was kind of nice to know that if there was something dodgy with my form (which is definitely a possibility as I am still getting used to lifting) that the instructor was right there to correct me if necessary (it was also good to know that even she was a little shaky when it came to some balance stuff).

There was still that part of me however that felt like I was being watched and judged by the people behind me, which I guess is why I always exist in the back somewhere. I hate that feeling. That people are watching me. That I’m somehow the centre of attention even though I know I’m not. There’s a part of me that always wants to make myself as small and as invisible as possible and I can’t do that if I’m standing in front of people. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re up front. That’s a residual problem from childhood. One that I thought I had gotten over, but apparently hadn’t. So that’s my new challenge to myself.

Because I know from experience that no one is really paying to attention to what anyone else is doing unless they are glancing over to try and figure out what the fuck they’re supposed to be doing next and then they are gonna carry on with their lives and pay you no mind. And I got over myself being my own worse enemy enough to put myself in that environment, so I’m gonna get over this thing that I didn’t even really know was a thing until I indirectly got called out about it.

Love,

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My Life

Out of the Habit

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When I returned to this blog at the beginning of the month I changed the way I viewed it and took a lot of pressure of myself for the sake of my sanity and to avoid just churning out an old post for the sake of getting something out on a day to day basis.

Turning that switch off in my head has proved to be incredibly beneficial to the way that I view this blog. I stopped looking at it as some kind of chore and that in turn helped to create a more creative view for myself on it. I started to feel more inspired and more inclined to actually write content and it’s great. There is still a little bit of blogger’s guilt when I do miss a day, or in the case of this last week just go days without posting. But I would rather that then getting home for the day and then writing something that I kind of hate the entire that I am typing it and just letting it post. And I have to keep reminding myself of that on the days where my usual posting time passes and nothing comes with it.

Anyway, thinking about this has all come about because come Sunday I am going back to posting every single day. Every day. For the whole 31 days. Something that I haven’t done since Letters to Spring earlier in the year. Which at this point in the year seems like a distant, distant memory. And it felt kind of hard then even though I was in a better habit with this blog then.

I don’t even really know what to expect from next month at this point. On the one hand I’m not all that worried because the beauty of the month is that it is almost like a diary with the way that I approach it. They don’t have to be all that substantial in terms of content, in that in my head I just feel like I can take a little thing that happened on any given day and then just talk through my thought process in some way. In that respect I pretty much treat this project as a way to keep the cobwebs from building up too much on my writing and just get very Virginia Woolf about it all. And that is something that can take as little as half an hour each day. On the other had though I am kind of terrified of having to get back into the habit of posting every day because it’s not something that I used to doing at this point any more. Hasn’t been for months. And I don’t quite know how I am going to react to it.

I mean I have slowly built up to it in some ways with this month, but then I’ve also really not, given my almost near radio silence for the last week.

For one, I am going to have to really nail the whole being organised thing (more on how that is going later on in the week, see I occasionally have things planned…) and secondly I’m going to have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay if they get a bit more stream of consciousness than usual, that’s the beauty of the project that I decided to partake in and kind of make whatever the hell I want.

Oh, and I also need to remind myself not to repeat myself, so I gotta get better of keeping track what I wrote, which I guess links into the whole being organised thing.

And then I need to start worrying about November…which although themed in my head is also going to still (try) and be an everyday-er kind of job. So far, the month has a lot of book reviews scheduled because those have pretty disappeared recently, but I need to get more bookish ideas that are not that over the next few weeks so it’s literally just a case of writing them up, not thinking of ideas and then trying to figure out what the hell to do with them the day before the post is due.

I’m feeling good about the next couple of months though. So good in fact that I am, yet again, considering taking part in Nano in November. I might cheat juuustttt a little and work on an already existing manuscript,  but if I can get 50,000 words added to that it will be all the closer to actually being a finished thing and that kind of blows my mind. I mean there are a lot of other hurdles to jump over before it gets to that, but I’m doing the damn thing.

But before that I gotta do the damn thing of Letters to Autumn, and also make a modification to my sign off…

Parentheses count: 2. See you next time!

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My Life

The Charcoal Experience

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Never one to jump on a bandwagon (actually sometimes I do, sometimes I steer well clear of one) I ended up falling into one of those weird loops where I just read all the possible articles that I could on something.

In this case it was charcoal toothpaste.

It started off as reading about Emma Watson’s beauty regime and ended with me heavily leaning towards giving it a shot.

And then I stopped leaning and just fell.

Into the toothpaste aisle in Boots looking at the charcoal toothpaste options available to me. Then there was one that was on offer and the calling became too much so I answered.

And now I brush my teeth twice a day in a foam of black.

That surprisingly didn’t take much getting used to. What did though was watching where said black foam ended up. Charcoal is funnily enough a lot harder to quickly deal with than regular toothpaste, so I have to be extra careful when I’m going about brushing my teeth and remember to rinse the sink out for a bit longer (not gonna lie, I am better at doing this at one end of the day then the other, guess which one?).

The one I use is Curaprox Black is White and I bought it at the beginning of June and now in mid-July I still have at least a third of a tube of left, maybe closer to half. My point there is that it’s long lasting, I reckon I might have another month left with this tube quite comfortably unlike my previous toothpaste which lasted 4-6 weeks. The fact that one tube lasts for so long means that it makes the price tag a little less of a terrible blow to take.

In terms of the actual toothpaste it has a nice fresh minty taste. I mean it says fresh lime mint but it’s minty. It’s nice. It’s refreshing and not too overpowering as it could have been. It leaves my teeth feeling cleaner than when I used my previous toothpaste. And it has a pretty similar texture to a regular one as well, although it is a little coarser, but not noticeably so, once I’ve used mouthwash.

Obviously the hype around charcoal toothpaste is that it helps to whiten teeth, and to be honest I have noticed a difference but also I’ve not massively been paying attention to it. But there is a difference.

For the most part I think I will probably stick with it but then also I’m not like holding myself to that. Mainly because the price tag is a bit too big just for toothpaste but that’s a small drawback that may not actually affect anything. I’m gonna see how long this tube actually lasts and then make a decision. For now though, I’m converted.

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow, yes really!

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My Life

What is currently on your mind?

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So I may have told a small untruth, in that in actual fact I hit a wall with what I was going to post again and decided to change the idea again so it’s still in a half finished state and I’m working on it. I’m not gonna give a date that it might actually show up because I don’t have one it would appear given how often I keep changing the damn idea.

But anyway, the post today is pretty self explanatory.

What is currently on your mind?

Well I am currently writing this while watching the One Love Manchester concert and it is making me feel some kind of way. On some level for that reason the last couple of weeks have been a tad intense for a multitude of reasons and on some level there is just anger bubbling away under the surface.

Underneath that there is also this never ending cycle of anxiety that seems to be just plaguing me right now and just when I think it has passed it hits me all over again and I’m in this weird doomsville with it all which is started to get really frustrating. And then that frustration in and of itself makes it worse and I would just very much like to not be in my own head for a little while. Alas, I am taking comfort in meditation and exercise to just try and keep things a little bit more settled.

Then there is the part of me that is prepping for the work week ahead. Which is what it is. Work has finally stopped draining me so much because my mindset has finally improved a bit which felt like it took a decade, but that was related to the earlier thing. But it’s still draining. Mainly because as the weather warms up the office becomes some kind of sauna and that kind of heat just makes a person feel tired anyway.

Other than that, I am currently sleeping kind of well, which a part of me is suspicious about because well I’m me. And I’m also sort of looking ahead to the rest of the week and all the various things I need to do on different days of the week (and figure out at what point of the day I am actually going to go to a polling station on Thursday). And I’m also wondering just how long I’ve had a face mask on my face because it’s flaking off and I feel like that’s a sign that it’s been on too long…

Parentheses count: 1. See you tomorrow!

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My Life

Questions to Ponder Pt 5

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And so we have reached the final part.

41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

My brother.

42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

No.

43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Your attitude.

44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

When you keep coming back to the same thing/answer. It’s a gut feeling, and generally they are always right.

45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Because making a mistake links to failure and a lot of people are scared of failing.

46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Drop the filter (but also never cross over to being a dick).

47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

The other day when I almost had a panic attack…

48. What do you love?

At this moment in time the only thing I can think of is food and musicals.

49. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

I got really passionate about some potatoes that my dad made the other day that were sooooo good and I’ve watched Sutton Foster do Anything Goes (the tap dancing break in particular) so many times recently and I fell into this trap of finding out how much tickets to An American in Paris would cost…I may or may not revisit that trap.

50. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that? Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

This is wayyy more than one question. But, going through them as listed: uhhh I might remember parts of yesterday (I’m writing this on Sunday after a Saturday where I actually did something), but no I probably won’t remember the two days prior to that, I had two shit days in a row so it would be best if I didn’t dwell on them even now. And finally, I’m currently in a combination of the two.

And that’s all 50 questions done!

Parentheses count: 3. See you tomorrow!

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