Hi folks, this is my Updates Post for round 3 of Tome Topple. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please do refer to my TBR post which has all the information. Basically, there’s a readathon happening for the next fortnight where you have to read tomes (i.e. books over 500 pages), and I’m going to try to not suck at it. This post will be updated at a regular intervals and is mainly my way of keeping myself accountable and hopefully reading more than I ordinarily would. Let’s see how that goes, shall we?
As people we are all inevitably shaped by the media and culture we consume. This is especially true of our formative years, especially childhood. I think that’s why any books, films or TV shows that we enjoyed as children hold a strange and special place in our hearts, even as we get older and even if we might notice ‘problematic’ things about them.
This post is inspired by the wonderful Cinzia whose videos I adore and who does a sort of annual favourites video which she titles, for example, Books That Made Me 2015. These aren’t just books that are her favourites of the year; they are the books that contributed a more lasting impact on her life in that given year and whose effect will last many years into the future. This got me thinking about my own favourites, the books that “made me”, and I felt like a wander down nostalgia lane in the form of revisiting some of the books I read as a child that I think contributed into making me the reader, and the person, I am today. I thought it might be an interesting feature post to share with you lovely folks, and perhaps we could start a little discussion about what childhood favourite books made you into the reader you are today?
Even more timely, earlier today I came across Comma Press’ blog from their staff talking about their favourite childhood books in honour of World Book Day today. Today seems like the perfect day to publish my own blog post dedicated to the books that came to me as a child reader and still influence the reader I am to this very day. This is going to be a long one, kids, so buckle up…
As you might have seen from my previous post, this past weekend I participated in the 24 in 48 Readathon. For those unaware of the premise, a quick summary is that you try to read for 24 hours out of a possible 48 hours i.e. Saturday and Sunday.
Now, I knew going into this that I would never in a million years make it to 24 hours of reading, no way, I’m not that disciplined, frankly, and I also didn’t want to burn myself out on reading. However, I did want to make the effort to make reading a priority this past weekend and, on that front, I’d consider it a rousing success. Whilst I did watch some TV – Taboo could not be missed on Saturday night, and we needed to finish the final episode of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – I mostly just read. When I got up and had breakfast, rather than putting on an old episode of Thick of It for the billionth time, I read instead, and I felt so much better and productive for it. Don’t get me wrong, I also spent the entire weekend inside, in the same chair, which made me a little cabin fever-y but nothing a week at work can’t cure, I’m sure.
But, for now, I wanted to wrap-up the readathon by briefly mentioning what I read, since I read some really great things that re-invigorated my love of reading, and I would like to share them. (Also, not gonna lie, this might be the most productive weekend I’ve ever had, reading-wise, so I need to document this moment for posterity’s sake!)
These are the stack of books I hoped to choose from over the course of the 24in48 readathon. (Not pictured: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire audiobook, as read by Stephen Fry)
I purposely picked books that were different genres, different lengths, different formats, in order to keep me interested and keep me productively reading – if I started to get bored of A Series of Unfortunate Events, for example, I could switch over to a memoir or to poetry. As far as TBR stacks go, I feel like this was one of my most considerate and successful, as you can see below…
Read for 14.5 hours in total | 1182 pages | 7 books
Completed 7 books – 3 graphic novels, 1 poetry collection, 2 novels, 1 memoir:
Saga, Volume One – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Saga, Volume Two – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Saga, Volume Three – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Wishing For Birds – Elisabeth Hewer
The Wide Window (ASOUE #3) – Lemony Snicket
The Miserable Mill (ASOUE #4) – Lemony Snicket
Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham
& made 24% progress with 1 audiobook:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling (read by Stephen Fry)
Considering all I wanted to do was prioritise reading, I’d say I’ve definitely met that goal for this past weekend and I’m very proud of the progress I made. Whilst I would have liked to have a little more War and Peace under my belt, I’m not in the least surprised that I favoured shorter reads for quicker gratification. However, participating in this readathon has allowed me to think carefully about what I was reading and it has taken a bit of pressure off me in terms of the yearly challenges I’m doing though, so that will definitely help when War and Peace takes longer to read than other novels. (See Around the Year in 52 Books, Book Riot Read Harder, and my 2017 Read for any progress updates on my yearly challenges! And I will be trying to periodically upload reviews for all the things I’ve read so far in 2017, I swear.)
All in all – a very good weekend of reading and I’m very glad I participated in the readathon; I highly encourage you to try it out for yourself if you haven’t before!
Did you participate in the 24 in 48 Readathon? How did you do?
Comment below or link progress posts if you have them – I would love to hear about your weekend’s reading.
When is it probably the wrong time to participate in a readathon? When you’re reading a long af book like Tolstoy’s War and Peace. However, I’m still going to do it, because I’m curious as to whether I can actually get close to reading for 24 hours in 2 days – which is what this readathon is all about!
For those who aren’t aware the 24 in 48 Readathon is just what it says on the tin – participants try to read for 24 out of 48 hours, over the course of a weekend.
You can either start at 12:01am ET and use a time zone converter to find out what time to crack those books open where you are in the world or you can simply start reading at 12:01am in whatever time zone you’re in. Personally,I’m going to do the latter because I don’t fancy waking up at 5:00am on a Saturday. No, no way.
I like the concept of this because there aren’t any goals besides trying to reach 24 hours of reading. I can never commit myself fully to the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon on account of the fact that I enjoy sleep too much but, the goal of reading for 24 hours of the course of a weekend, well… that I can try to do. I am under no illusions – I will probably fail spectacularly and only read for a few hours, but I’d still like to try, and I’d still like to track it because, if nothing else, it would be useful to know where my hours do actually go on a weekend!
I’ve put together a stack of books to choose from, and I hope mixing up genre, format, and topic of book will help to keep my attention. I’ve also split my potential reads into short, medium, and long length reads, so I can mix it up when I need some instant gratification of being able to read a book in an hour.
And, of course, this provides me with the perfect opportunity to put my bullet journal trackers to good use, I even created this one specially for the readathon thanks to the inspiration of Susie’s readathon tracker.
So, I have books, I have time, I have snacks, I think I have everything I will need for the weekend and 24 in 48 Readathon. I’ll probably be updating via Twitter and Instagram so stay tuned there if you’re curious about how my reading is going. If you’re participating, let me know below! Otherwise, I’ll see you on the other side.
Wait ‘TBR’ you say? Emma plans yet another TBR which she promptly forgets about in the rest of the month? Yes, dear blog readers, you’ve read that right; I am yet again entertaining the notion that setting a TBR will mean I actually feel accountable for my reading and so finish all of the books on the list. Mainly because I have quite a few books checked out from the library – and by ‘quite a few’ I mean that the stack has officially reached the heights of being level with the height of my bed. I should also point out at this stage that my bed has quite a high divan base so when I say that’s quite a stack, that’s really quite a stack.
I have a few books on reserve at the library too so I want to try to clear the stack (or at least make it shorter) before those come in for me. I suppose I should also maybe, just maybe, read some of my own damn books – especially since I’ve bought quite a few in the past couple of months. Maybe May will be a phenomenal reading month? I certainly hope so, goodness knows I could do with getting through the entirety of this TBR even if I am all too aware that that probably won’t happen because I’ll be distracted by something shiny. Still, dream big etc.
I don’t think 9 books is that big of an ask but we’ll see how it goes this month. I’m actually feeling quite happy with my reading pace lately, it’s just nice and level, and if that could continue through Spring and into this Summer then I would be very, very happy with that. We shall see.
What books are you planning to read this month? Have you read any of the above books or have plans to in the future? Let me know in the comments below!
I have excellent news… I started a job last week. I know, I’m as surprised as you are. At its most basic, it means I no longer have to go to the soul-destroying non-place that is the local friendly Job Centre Plus – huzzah. At its best, it’s a job I think I can vaguely do, in time… and once I have permissions in place to access to all the relevant systems. It’s happening, just slowly. The job itself is based on a service/reception desk of sorts. It’s a part-time, temporary contract covering someone’s maternity leave but it’s working at a local University so I’m really pleased that my on-campus jobs whilst studying at Lancaster University obviously helped at interview for my current job – huzzah again.
All of this means, however, that I can no longer spend Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays wandering about the house with my nose in a book. It seems an acceptable trade-off. Plus the 20 minute train journey either way gives me 2 hours a week of spare time in which, really, there’s nothing much else to do besides listen to music and plaintively stare out of the train window at the not-so-glorious, not-so-picturesque views of the North East countryside zipping by. I’m glad to discover the morning train in particular is quiet enough to be conducive to reading; I’m sure this is only because no one is awake before 8am. I’ll take it, though.
So, this is a rather long winded way of saying this is why my blogging has become somewhat sporadic though I have been making an effort to queue things ready for posting. Once I have time to sit down this weekend, I’ll also catch up on the couple of reviews I need to write. Alongside that I do have some reading plans for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as follows:
First off, I hope to finish Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I’ve really been enjoying this one – when I saw it was blurbed by Caitlin Moran, I knew what sort of writing I was in for, even though I’d never heard of Jenny Lawson previously to Leena’s lovely video on her latest book Furiously Happy. Speaking of, I also have Furiously Happy on loan from the library so it is quite possible I will be starting that if I end up enjoying the remainder of Let’s Pretend as much as I have the first 200 or so pages. All in all, any book that makes a reference to Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch in the footnotes seems like a solid book to me.
Aside from that, I recently finished the Mistborn trilogy and have been experiencing withdrawal from Sanderson’s brilliantly baffling world. So it’s possible I might venture towards his standalone novel set in the same world – The Alloy of Law. Failing that, if I think I don’t have the mental capacity required for adult fantasy I might allow myself the comforting tropes and tribulations of his YA fantasy offering – Steelheart.
If I don’t have the capacity for either, I’m considering getting started on Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while and I’ve had it out from the library for quite some time now so I should probably stop being a bad book borrower and actually finish the book and return it in a timely manner so someone else can read it. Aside from the moral dilemma of hogging books, I also noticed Shannon from leaninglight’s reading group Reads With Friends has organised a readalong for next week – so it seems rude (almost like going against fate) to ignore the book yet again when there is an opportunity like this to discuss it once I’m finished reading it. But I might get a cheeky head-start if the time presents itself over this weekend.
So those are my likely Friday/Weekend Reads – what are you reading this weekend? How has your reading been going so far in 2016? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned above? Comment below – I’d love to hear your opinion.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme which was created by The Broke and Bookish and each week those lovely ladies decide on a topic around which you create lists (because who doesn’t love a good list) of ten books that fit the given theme. This week’s topic is: Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So.
Phew, that’s a bit of a mouthful but, in short, here are my top ten quotes from books I’ve read recently, with recently here meaning books I’ve read since the start of 2015. Because I’m incapable of choosing favourites, especially when it comes to quotes which I collect, these are listed roughly in reverse order of when I read them, such organisation!
- “Myths are simply stories about truths we’ve forgotten.” (The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan)
- “The Darkling slumped back in his chair. ‘Fine,’ he said with a weary shrug. ‘Make me your villain.’ ” (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo)
- “Senior year. And then life. Maybe that’s the way it worked. High school was just a prologue to the real novel. Everybody got to write you — but when you graduated, you got to write yourself.” (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz)
- “Humans were so circular; they lived the same slow cycles of joy and misery over and over, never learning. Every lesson in the universe had to be taught billions of times, and it never stuck. Maybe it was good that the world forgot every lesson, every good and bad memory, every triumph and failure, all of it dying with each generation. Perhaps this cultural amnesia spared them all. Perhaps if they remembered everything, hope would die instead.” (Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater)
- “She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.” (The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater)
- “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”(A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin)
- “Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.” (The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett)
- “Truly, life is wasted on the living, Nobody Owens. For one of us is too foolish to live, and it is not I.” (The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)
- “Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.” (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)
- “She recognized that that is how friendships begin: one person reveals a moment of strangeness, and the other person decides just to listen and not exploit it.” (The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer)
As you can see from these smattering of favourite quotes from recent reads, I like a mix of the beautiful and the silly, the profound and the ridiculous, from love to death to something in-between. What are some of your favourite quotes from recent reads or of all-time?
Another dreary Monday which means only one thing – I remember that ‘Making Up For Monday‘, a weekly meme created by Tiffany at An Avid Reader, exists and I gladly riff off this week’s prompt which is:
What is your favourite book set in the past?
Taking a look at my favourites shelf on Goodreads will illustrate that most of the books I read tend to be set in the past for an obvious reason – they were written in the past. Therefore I’m not sure how many of them could actually count as ‘historical fiction’, since roughly speaking they depicted the time in which they were written, give or take a decade or so (i.e. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley). However, there are a couple of obvious themes I can spot from the other favourites on that shelf and they fall into the following categories: books “about” World War I and II; Shakespeare’s history plays; Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine.
When it comes to the World Wars, literature is often a useful jumping off point to try to conceptualise such a significant historical moment. The poetry of WWI and II is frequently taught in schools, and I know we focused on figures like Sassoon and Owen during A Level studies, by reading Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy and a poetry anthology which included the famous ‘Dulce et decorum est’ and so on. I’m not much of a historian, never have been, but I love learning about history through stories. If history textbooks were written as narratives, I’d have paid much more attention in school, to be honest; I’m terrible with facts and figures, I’m good with quotes and concepts. Because of this, I found both Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong and Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief equally heartbreaking for very different reasons.
The former is a look at WWI through the journey of Stephen Wraysford, an Englishman who stays with a family in Amiens and falls in love with Isabelle, the lady of the house, who is in an unhappy marriage. The two dangerously start a relationship whilst the world is on the brink of war, and obviously it all goes wrong from there. It’s about sex and love and violence and death in that way that the polar opposites of sex and death seem to be so entwined in literature. It’s beautiful, and the descriptions of WWI battlefields are so grotesquely chilling that it’s truly an unforgettable read.
Secondly, there is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief which I feel needs no introduction but, essentially, we look at WWII as told by Death. It follows Liesel, a young German girl fostered by a couple who later hide a Jewish man in their basement. It’s about friendship and love and books and it’s one of those bittersweet reads that will make you weep, a lot, at the same time as adoring the prose. It’s beautifully written and it has a lovely message, summed up in its final line.
I’d always been a fan of Shakespeare, from reading Much Ado About Nothing in Year 9, 10, and 11 (what can I say, they stuck with it in my school) and loving it, to reading Romeo and Juliet and having some… interesting opinions about it (I hated it and told a Cambridge lit professor I did in an interview, whoops), to reading Macbeth and just being amazed at the crescendo of events in that particular infamous Scottish play. When I went to university I ended up discovering a deeper penchant for early modern, including a surprise interest in the likes of John Donne and early modern outlaws, but Shakespeare was always involved for me.
I particular enjoy some of Shakespeare’s “history plays” which have gone on to become some of my favourite “books” (shh I’m counting them) ever: Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry V. After reading Richard III this year I think I’d even recommend that. Summed up by the phrase “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, all of these examples seek to humanise and, conversely, fictionalise historical figures. Some of Shakespeare’s characterisations have become so enmeshed with the public perception of these figures that it’s difficult to conceptualise them without being influenced by Shakespeare’s play of the same name – looking at you, Richard III. If you don’t have the patience for reading plays I’d at least recommend watching the BBC’s wonderful The Hollow Crown miniseries which was wonderful, Richard II in particular is beautiful.
And finally, Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine must have a category to itself because I’m not even quite sure what it is. Equal parts historical, pulp, science fiction, it’s a mish-mash of different genres and I love it for it. I wrote this and this review to try to puzzle out why I enjoyed it so much but I think, in the end, I have to say I enjoyed it because it took a playful look at early modern society from a contemporary perspective, drawing the two together and unafraid to mix them together to create something truly unique. I think it’s safe to say you won’t find another historical novel quite like it, even if I am on the hunt for such a thing in the hope it exists! Eyre’s book left me with such a book hangover and I still haven’t been able to find anything else of a similar vein so please if you know of something similar, comment below because I feel like I need it in my life.
I think that very much covers most of the books I’ve adored that are set in that wide-ranging time known as The Past. Weirdly, I’d say I very rarely read contemporary unless it has some kind of fantasy element weaved into it (i.e. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys), but I’d greatly appreciate any more historical fiction recommendations.
If you had money to buy a book today, which book would it be?
It should come as no surprise that I have a list. And that list is quite long – it’s also known as my ‘to-read’ shelf on Goodreads. However, I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to save as much money as possible until I’m able to find a job so quite a lot of books are out of the picture at the moment. I’ve rediscovered the library and ebooks which have slightly softened the blow but the itch to buy new releases is still very present – the fact I recently caved and purchased Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo attests to this weakness. The unfortunate fact about new releases is they are often hardback and therefore more pricey than their lovely paperback counterparts which take months to be released, by which point I’ll definitely have been spoiled because I watch booktube reviews with no regard for spoiler warnings! These hardbacks are also often the prettiest designed things you might ever own, or at least the most tempting of them are.
And, on that theme, if I had the money to buy a book today it would be either a pre-order of Slade House by David Mitchell, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, or the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by (do I even need to say) J.K. Rowling. Why? Well just look at them.
(My birthday is this weekend if anyone’s feeling generous, just saying)
As mentioned in my Intentions post, I’m terrible at sticking to TBRs so this is just the stack of books I’ll be choosing from during the readathon:
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (x)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (x)
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig (x)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (x)
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (x)
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (x)
1pm – Start of the readathon, my very first 24 hour readathon, exciting!
4pm – Managed to read for a full 30 mins before family obligations interrupted at 1:30pm and I have now spent the afternoon listening to a very screechy toddler. Here’s hoping for more reading later.
8pm – Finished Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo but got a tad understandably distracted by Strictly Come Dancing. Now my parents have left the house for the evening, everything is quiet, and I’m ready to move onto my next book – shall it be The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness or Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig? Choices choices!
9pm – Entered the brilliant Armchair Travelling mini-challenge, picking Manderley for the place I’d love to visit! Decided to read the Patrick Ness book – never picked up a book by him (though the Chaos Walking trilogy has been on my radar for years) so I’m hoping I enjoy this one.
10pm – Another cup of tea for me and made it to page 64 of The Rest of Us, enjoying it so far, the narrative voice is so readable and easy to fly through. I even took the time to read the first chapter aloud since it was so readable. Loving the satirical tone and when they all talk about the “indie kids” in school always being called Finn or Dylan.
11pm – Page 147 of The Rest of Us and things just got… weird, including deities with connections to cats, resurrected deer, and cops with glowing blue eyes. Well, okay, let’s go with it.
midnight – Page 242 of The Rest of Us and I think I’m starting to slow down but that’s fine since I’ve already exceeded my own (admittedly low) expectations. Will start to wind down the pace and pick the readathon back up tomorrow morning I think since I have until 1pm (well 12:59) to read in my time-zone.
But, as I go for the night, a quote I really liked:
“Please don’t.” He’s still weirdly angry. “Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway.” (p. 236)
11am – with only 2 hours left to go, I’ve started another book I won’t finish but have been meaning to read since I won it in a Goodreads’ giveaway: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I finished The Rest Of Us by Patrick Ness when I (belatedly) woke up this morning and loved it. Pulley’s book is definitely a change of tone but it’s set in Victorian London so I’m bound to love it.
Enjoyed the hell out of myself and was reminded of that love for reading when you get cosy with a book and a blanket and don’t move out of your spot for hours until you’re done with it. A much needed reminder!
Books Completed: 2 (Ruin and Rising + The Rest Of Us Just Live Here)
Pages Read: 138 + 352 = 490