Reading Resolutions 2014/15

So, as I work on an academic timetable/year I’m starting my reading resolutions from September 1st. One, I’m more likely to stick to them and two, I’m determined to not let reading fall behind this coming year at uni. For most people, these probably aren’t all that ambitious, but when I only read about 12 books through 8 months at uni I feel I ought to try and do at least something.

  1. Do a monthly TBR – I think this is doable, I can base the next month on the previous month and it will also focus my reading a little more. There’ll not be any indecisiveness over which book to pick next, which I think will help a lot.
  2. Read ONE Penguin English Library classic a month (or any variation thereof, including my other pretty Penguin editions) – I love classics and I read so very few now. I’ve got several on my shelf, and a couple I plan on investing in so I want to set a goal to read them and not allow them to stagnate! There are a couple of sub-goals:
    1. Persevere with Jane Austen – This is a goal for the long term. I want to revisit Jane Austen. I think this time I may try and watch the adaptations first to get a better grasp on the story as a whole before throwing myself in to the books. I didn’t enjoy them while I was at school and even now I don’t enjoy them as such. The only Austen I have enjoyed was Persausion – but I saw the movie first!
    2. Start reading Dickens – I can shamefully announce I have read only A Christmas Carol. Nothing else. This is something I want to try again. I’m going to aim for 3 in the next year! Maybe as with the Austen plan, I shall watch adaptations first!
  3. Revisit books from school – and just authors that I explored at school; I’m not going to aim too high over the next year
    1. Shakespeare – I’d like to get back in to Shakespeare, MacBeth is one of my favourite plays and I just love Shakespeare so I’m going to aim to read 2 or 3 of his plays.
    2. John Steinbeck – I really enjoyed Of Mice and Men and I’ve heard great things from many people about his other works. Hoping to read East of Eden and maybe Grapes of Wrath.
    3. George Orwell – I read an extract of Animal Farm. Not even the whole novel.  My sister adores Orwell so I’m wanting to read at least Animal Farm and 1984.
  4. Participate in readalongs & readathons – This is quite a new concept for me, but I’m going to try it out as I really enjoyed the Classical Literature Readalong this August!
  5. Read as many book club books as I can – I’m part of a book club and hardly ever read the books. This has to change! I’ve bought Septembers book for my kindle to take on holiday with me, and I am going to read it. A post about this book club will follow mid-month as it’s more than just a reading group! A year-long read-a-thon/challenge is going on again this year starting on September 1st so I’m going to be making a post about that at some point!
  6. Review – I’ve really enjoyed reviewing books this summer, I want to keep on top of that! So I’m going to aim to write one or two long reviews a month and then anything more is a bonus. I’ll endeavour to write at least 250 words for every book I read though and maybe put them in a monthly overview around the end of the month.
  7. Non-Fiction – I’m going to aim for at least 6 non-fiction books this year – cover to cover opposed to just the suggested chapter of my textbook. I do love a good popular science book or a biography so I’m going to aim for more!

I think that’s everything for now! If anyone wants to suggest books to me that fit in to any of the specific categories I’ve mentioned, or wants to throw a good movie adaptation at me, please do!

Review: Girl Meets Boy – Ali Smith

GirlMeetsBoyI don’t think I can quite express how much I love this book. I first read this book in 2010 and I fell in love with it then. As a 16 year old, finding this book, a book that I identified so easily with I was captured and I have since read it once a year – it’s no stretch to say that this is one of my favourite books of all time. Every time I read this book I love it a little more, and in different ways. This time I took a bit longer to read it, rather than devouring it in one sitting and I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do but I decided to approach this a bit differently this time around as it was being read for the Classical Readalong.

Unlike reading The Odyssey before re-reading The Penelopiad, I don’t feel that reading The Metamorphoses altered my enjoyment of Girl Meets Boy. It didn’t change my opinion, it didn’t change how I approached it or how I interpreted it – maybe it’s because I was familiar with the myth of Iphis prior to my reading of The Metamorphoses. A lot of people say this book is just a long poetic ramble, and it is, but I love it.

 

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Review: The Metamorphoses – Ovid

metamorphoses

When looking for this book, I settled on the Penguin Clothbound edition as I had some Amazon credit and naturally when I signed up for the classical readalong, I had to have a pretty edition to read. I didn’t bother to look at the better translations, I just went for the book that would look prettiest on my shelf. I don’t care.

So, as I bought and read this for the classical readalong, I was naturally going to compare it to The Odyssey as I read it. Firstly, unlike The Odyssey this is a verse translation – though it was more free verse and, as someone who doesn’t find poetry the easiest thing to read, it seemed like some deconstructed sentences to me. I did however find myself easily falling in to the pattern of the writing and I became very easily lost in it for much longer than I thought I had been. I found the style of this much more like a short story collection, or maybe a poetry collection.

Also, unlike The Odyssey, this book ‘had me at hello’ .

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Review: Theodosia Throckmorton Series – R. L. LeFevers

Theodosia seriesI wish I’d had these books when I was 12. I loved them now, but honestly this would have been my dream book series when I was younger. Ancient Egypt is something that has always interested me, more so since I watched The Mummy aged 9. So having a book series, with a girl (!!!) at the helm, who has more balls than Alex from The Mummy Returns and with brains that put Hermione Granger to shame – sure she was a little precocious, but I loved her. I absolutely adored her, actually and over the course of the 4 books that have been published (I’m holding out for the 5th) she grew so much and my love for her only grew too

The series follows a young girl, Theodosia Throckmorton, daughter of the curator of London’s Museum of Legends and Antiquities. But, as per most books, Theodosia is a very special little girl – she can see the curses and black magic that cling to artefacts. As the series progresses, we learn more about little Theo and her special talents but not without a bit of mayhem, of course.

While these books are technically middle grade books, there’s so much in them that a ‘grown up’ can enjoy. Theodosia could be classed as quite obnoxious (she is obnoxious, but I love her in spite of  that) but there is a lot to love in the adults of this story too, and there’s a lot that would go over a younger readers head but is appreciated by an older reader. There’s a level of sarcasm and quite adult humour underlying something quite innocent (somewhat like any good children’s movie, it’s truly written for the adults!)

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Review: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

murakami coverI think it’s fair to say this book wasn’t what I was expecting; but then, what really is expected when Murakami is at the helm? I haven’t had much prior experience with Murakami, I didn’t much enjoy Norwegian Wood when I’ve tried to read it but I absolutely loved 1Q84 – which is apparently a very different opinion to the masses! There was a question on Goodreads asking if disappointment in 1Q84 affected decisions as to whether or not to read this book – my answer to that is I loved 1Q84 so it absolutely affected my decision, in a positive way. I cannot remember the last time I bought a book (even an eBook) on release day. It was probably Harry Potter.

Back to this book, it’s about a man named Tsukuru Tazaki.  At the age of 20, Tsukuru Tazaki is kicked out of his group of five friends, three boys and two girls. Each of them has a colourful name: Red, Blue, White and Black, except for Tsukuru. It’s representative for the way he thinks about himself: colourless, with nothing valuable to offer the rest of the group – or even the world. This book follows him – in a series of present day tellings and flashbacks that cover the course of the 16 years since that day.

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Review: The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood

the penelopiad

Having read The Odyssey as part of a readalong, reading The Penelopiad was recommended as a complementary piece to Homer’s original work on which this is based. 

I originally read this book 5 years ago and, while I enjoyed it, I felt like I was missing something. Atwood’s writing is beautiful but there was a gaping hole in this book for me originally – I didn’t understand what was going on! Now, having read The Odyssey – I adored it and it’s probably skyrocketed to near the top of my favourite books of all time. Knowing the backstory just elevated this book completely.

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Review: How To Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

how-to-be-a-womanI’ve debated for a while whether to give this a 4 or 5 star rating on Goodreads. It was a hard decision, but ultimately, while it’s not the greatest literary work ever – it’s hit me in all the places that matter. My personal enjoyment, what I’m taking away from reading this book, far outweigh the little things that I didn’t like so much about it (it’s a bit shouty, and I’m not really a fan of lots of swearing). Let’s be honest it is not going to become a academic tome of feminist philosophy but underneath all the jokes is a ‘short, sharp feminist agenda’. It’s mainly for the humour with a healthy whack of feminism that I ultimately decided on 5 stars – I can overlook bad language and a stuck caps-lock key.

I had been wanting to read this for ages but it wasn’t until I found solace in reading through the universities Feminist Society page after a particularly awful incident on a bus that I thought “right, that’s it, enough is enough. I am reclaiming myself” or somesuch – the details are sketchy at best – that I actively went in pursuit of it.

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Review: The Odyssey – Homer

odyssey

As anyone who follows this blog will know, I’m challenging myself this August with the Classical Read Along, hosted by the very lovely Jean over at BookishThoughts on youtube. So the first half of the month is focusing on Greek literature, in this case Homer’s The Odyssey.

The edition I’m reviewing is the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition, translated by E. V. Rieu (revised by D. C. Rieu). Which is, of course, beautiful to look at (always a pro)!

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