Discussion: January to March Reading Wrap-Up

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Hello my lovely readers, and welcome to a rather different blog post – and one I haven’t done since August last year – a reading wrap up! I gave up doing wrap ups and TBRs because I wasn’t really reading much towards the end of last year and TBRs weren’t working. However, so far this year I’ve read 37 books. THIRTY SEVEN! I was aiming for 2 books a week to meet my goal of 100 books on Good Reads, but currently I’m on track to read around 150 books if I keep up this pace!

General Statistics:-
As I said, I’ve read 37 books so far this year from January to the end of March. The 37 books total 11,998 pages and it works out at an average of 324 pages per book. Which is crazy. I have a spreadsheet which I’ve been logging my reading on since 2012. In 2012 I was happy to have read that many pages in a year so to think I’ve managed to read that many pages in 3 months is incredible!

Diversity:-
Having participated in femmeuary – reading only female authors in February – I’ve somewhat skewed my author gender data, but as it stands 76% (or 28 authors) have been women so far. I’d rather like to keep up with that balance of around 75% female authors as I’m really enjoying what I’m reading so far, and don’t feel like I’m missing anything out!

I’ve also been trying to read from a more diverse range of authors as, I have noticed, my reading is very white – last year I read only 2 books by non-white authors. 2 books. So this year I’ve already surpassed that as 10 of the books – or 27% – have been from authors of a non-white ethnicity. Obviously it’s not ideal to still be around the 25% mark but it’s still a lot more diverse than my previous 2 years reading and, honestly, I’m loving it!

The Books in General:-
Genre wise – just over 50% of my reading has been non-fiction which is something that’s really surprised me when looking at. I know I’ve been reading more non fiction this year simply because I’ve been enjoying it a lot more. I’ve read several memoirs and thanks to the Wellcome prize I’ve also read a large amount of science non-fiction on top of that. This year I’ve also really been enjoying essays and essay collections so I’m pretty sure there’ll be a good balance of fiction to non fiction going forward. Right now as I write this I’m definitely more in a non-fiction mood than I am fiction and, honestly, I’m loving it!

My average rating is 3.6 if I’ve done my maths correctly. I’ve only had one 1* book, and I’ve had nine 5* books (two of which were re-reads in fairness).

Excluding re-reads, my favourite books I’ve read so far this year have been With the End in Mind for non-fiction and for fiction my favourite so far has to be The Gloaming which I do feel is cheating as it was an ARC and isn’t out until the end of next month, but whatever, my blog means my rules and I loved it.

Going Forward in to April:-
I don’t have much in the way of a TBR as such, but I’d like to keep up what I’m doing – as it stands my books per month have been gradually increasing, and while I’m aware it’ll plateau and probably dip at some point, I’d quite like it to keep quite steady at the 10 books a month area. One thing I want to do though is keep the fiction/non-fiction balance at around the 50/50 mark because honestly I am really, really enjoying non fiction lately and I have a lovely little collection of books on gender studies and feminism which I really want to get around to more of over the next few weeks!

If there’s anything anyone would like to see on the blog I’d love to hear from you. I want to do more chatty posts like this, because I feel that I’ve been banging out reviews one after the other (roughly at 1 every 3 days or so at the moment) and not really having time to just blog about reading in general.

I hope you’re all having as productive a reading year as I am so far. Feel free to send me recommendations, on here or on goodreads, as I said I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

300 Subscribers!|| Blogmas Day 18

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Hello my lovely subscribers, all 300 of you!

Today is a brief one, it’s been a long old day and didn’t have anything prepared/scheduled – but in a way that’s a good thing because while I was at work I hit 300 subscribers. So today I’m thanking all 300 of you who have taken the time to read, comment and subscribe over the last few years.

Seriously, thank you so much. Every like, every follow, every comment means so much to me. I know 300 people isn’t a huge amount to most, some of you guys probably have 10 times that amount of subscribers, but it’s a huge amount to me.

This blog started as an outlet when I started university, I never intended for it to become a place where I reviewed every book I read over the course of the last 3 years. It was an online diary for a while, it still is sometimes, but it became so much more to me than that. It’s still an outlet, but for a very different part of me – the creative part of me, the part of me who wants to find like-minded individuals as my Real Life sorely lacks in bookish types.

Because of this blog I have had some amazing conversations with amazing people. I have found other bloggers, read books I wouldn’t normally read, and importantly I’ve found my voice. I feel like my voice and opinion are valid, it’s given me confidence both online and in the ‘real world’.

So, thank you to every one of you who has subscribed, liked, commented, anything because it means the world to me.

 

Identity Crisis?|| Blogmas Day 15

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So today it’s a bit of a late one, and not really book-oriented, because I’m not having the best of days.

The last few days I’ve definitely been having a bit of a wobble (primarily due to my GP not seeing my anti-depressants as an urgent prescription and thinking it acceptable to make me go 3 days without them. They still haven’t done the prescription, but I have enough for a week from the pharmacy, and I can kick up a fuss on Monday if I still don’t have my repeat). However, that isn’t what I want to talk about today (as the rainbow in the header may indicate).

The other week, while on holiday, my friend made an offhand comment about how her dad misunderstood something I put on facebook (he misunderstood my “omg I’m going to be a bridesmaid” post as “omg I’m getting married”). And that she was proud of him because “He congratulated you even though if you were getting married, we all know it’d be to a woman.”

Thinking about it, I realised I’ve never actually ‘come out’. I’ve never felt the need to. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my sexuality, I know I prefer women, I just never felt the need to actually go and label myself. But do I need to tell my friends I’m gay? (or more gay than straight, or as I told my mother when I was all of 12 years old “not as straight as a ruler”).

I feel like I’ve lied to them, which is stupid because when I started uni and met them I never hid myself away. I was always 100% me. I make jokes about myself like “Doc Martens and a plaid shirt, you must be a lesbian!” at least twice a month, I frequently make references to particularly nice looking women, rant about the heteronormativity of the institution of marriage, talk very passionately about my favourite fictional lesbians, and regularly update them on LGBTQ+ news.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly think I’m hiding in Narnia.

I told my mum I was (at the very least) bisexual when I was 12 – as I said above. It was a result of a pretty problematic set of circumstances as to why, involving a much older girl taking advantage of me (and it wasn’t just me, as I came to find out). My parents were cool with it, never told me it was just a phase or any of those cliche things. From what I recall, my actual ‘coming out experience’ with my parents was positive – it was so long ago, and the circumstances around it are those I want to forget, meaning I have sort of blurred it in my head.

But, 12 years on, and with a whole new set of friends around me do I actually need to do the whole coming out thing with the words “hey, guess what, I’m gay(ish)?” or is what I’ve already done – just being me, hella gay, and rocking it – enough?

So, if anyone ever wondered what going 3 days without antidepressants did to you, it is this. It makes you unable to sleep and have anxiety attacks over things people probably already know. It makes you question your whole identity, bring up trauma you thought was long behind you and question your entire existence.

Thank goodness for pharmacists and emergency prescriptions.

Is It Ever Too Early for Feminism? || Blogmas Day 7

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We are 7 days in to this month and on the posting of this I have succeeded in one full week of blogmas! Today is another discussion type post and it is on picking books for children and what a minefield it can be. Also I’ve included a few kids books for children in your life (and also yourself if you want something fun to read!). This one is going to be lengthy, but I think it’s an important topic and I want to hear your opinions on it!

Recently, I had the experience of buying books for a friends daughter and it was a lot tougher than I was expecting. I had no idea that in this day and age, where we live in a (supposedly) equal society that children’s fiction is still so overrun with the age old idea of boys being heroes and girls sitting at home with no ambition waiting for a prince/hero/male to come and rescue them.

I’m not a parent, I have no intention of becoming a parent, and while I only have a small part to play in the childhood of my friends children, I absolutely do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes. I always tell her how smart she is, when we play she can be whoever or whatever she wants to be. I’m not her parent, but I adore her and I don’t want her to grow up with a skewed idea of what women are in society. I see this kid once a month and she is growing in to an amazing little girl – she’s a little firecracker, and bright as a button, and I will always encourage her to be that – but sometimes I worry that society, even in this modern day, will squash her down and shoehorn her in to a box of what she is expected to be by antiquated standards.

I was adamant I wanted to buy my friends daughter books for her 4th birthday as she loves reading. Now she’s starting to sound out words and read herself, I wanted to get her some picture books aimed at the 4-5 age group and it’s a minefield – so many of them are just not something that would build her confidence as a person. Books with female main characters often focus so much on things like beauty and innocence that is it any wonder that, subliminally, children get warped ideas about what they look like from such a young age?

The view of females in children’s books is something that is so dated and antiquated that I found myself getting frustrated – not only did I not want to impart that oh-so-gentle misogyny on to my friends 4 year old, I didn’t want it to then become okay for my friends 1 year old son when he inevitably read the same books in a couple of years. I wanted him to have positive representations of females too. If there is one thing I’m certain of it’s that the books you read when you’re first starting out stick with you – the stories, the underlying messages they have a profound impact.

So, on my mission to find Good Representation of Women In Children’s Fiction I found these two gems (below) and when I read them I could have cried. I was elated, because not only are they kickass girls, there’s representation of race, gender, and they’re not just ‘girls books’ – I know my friends son will get just as much out of them as her daughter. I certainly enjoyed them when I proof read them and I’d highly recommend them for any child in your life because they’re fantastic!

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I recently read an article which said something along the lines of 50-something % of children’s books have male protagonists, only 20-something % have female protagonists. The reason being a girl will read a ‘boys’ book, whereas a boy is unlikely to read a ‘girly’ book – there shouldn’t be genders in literature at any age in my opinion, but kids books are reinforcing stereotypes of men having all the action and girls having quiet, homey stories. Even books with animals as protagonists have primarily males at the core of them. Boys need feminism as much as girls do – male characters who cook, clean, are sole parents, are scared or cry – from my memory those things rarely happen in children’s books and that needs to change.

On to the topic of the day which is “is it ever too early to introduce a child to feminism?” – my answer is no. It doesn’t have to be shoved down a child’s throat, it can be subtle, but just simple things like books with female protagonists who don’t sit around and wait for a prince can have a huge impact on a child – male or female – and the same for male characters who aren’t always the hero.

My friends children are lucky – they have incredible parents who encourage them to be whoever and whatever they want to be, even at the ages of 4 and 1. They’re going to grow up to be wonderful human beings because their parents treat them equally and will teach both of them to respect themselves and other people, regardless of gender. I’m not trying to condition my friends daughter in to a “militant” feminist, she is only 4 after all, but I want her to see that she can be the superhero in her own story if she wants to be.

Blogmas 2017 || Blogmas Day 1

Well hello there. It’s been a while hasn’t it? After promising myself (and you) that I’d have a catch up in October, I started with good intentions and they fell by the wayside – as did my reading. But I want to change that in December – not only updating you with my reading but also generally blogging about life, the universe and everything. So, in a nutshell, I’m doing Blogmas!

Blogmas is great fun, and I really enjoyed it when I did it in 2015, so I want to do it again! I want it to help me fall back in love with blogging because I always seem to fall down towards the end of the year.

What will I be writing about? Well, I’ll probably do a few tags that have caught my eye over the last few months, discuss my favourite books of 2017, talk about my holidays (including my first solo adventure!) and my tattoos that I’ve had this year. While this is a blog for bookish goodness, I think introducing some variety in the content will encourage me to both read and write more.

So, if there’s anything you’d like to see on the blog feel free to suggest things – I need more ideas, that’s for sure!

As always, thanks for reading & we shall speak again tomorrow!

 

August Wrap-Up

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Good Evening and happy bank holiday weekend to those of you fortunate enough to be enjoying the last long weekend before Christmas! I know bank holidays are a very British thing, and I also know that my Scottish pals don’t get to enjoy the Late August holiday – but, as I have 4 days off work without any of my holiday allowance being eaten up I thought it was about time I updated you on my reading.

August has been a relatively productive month in that I actually did read a couple of books – and several graphic novels. Much more productive than July which was consumed by War and Peace! August has also been great because I’ve really got back in to gaming – nothing hardcore but it has definitely consumed a lot of my time this month! I’ve been playing a mix of things, but my life has been consumed by a game on my iPad called Battle Cats – yeah. Don’t ask.

On to the reading. In August I read 5 books – 2 novels and 3 graphic novels. One of the novels was more of a novella, but it does seem that in spite of War and Peace being a chunker my love of big ole books has not dissipated because as I write this I’m a quarter of the way through Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. I’m absolutely rocketing through it and I should be done with it by the end of the month (yay for long weekends!)

I am, however, acutely aware that I have not reviewed any of the books I read this month. And that’s for no reason other than I haven’t been in the mood to. However, I am now in the process of writing a tonne of reviews of books that I’ve read in the last few months but haven’t got around to – so September is going to be quite a catch up month and you can look forward to more regular posts from me. Reviews to look out for in the next couple of weeks include:-

  • Lumberjanes – Volumes 1 through to 6 – Noelle Stevenson et al.
  • The Wizard of Oz Graphic Novel series – Eric Shanower et al.
  • The Infinite Loop – Pierrick Colinet
  • Bringing in the Sheaves – Rev’d. Richard Coles
  • Justine – Alice Thompson
  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

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I don’t have a particularly strict TBR for September, but I do have a few books I’d like to get around to. I’m actually going on holiday at the end of the month and visiting family in Scotland, so I’m hoping that will provide some intense reading. Also, it’s between an 8 and 10 hour car trip each way which is absolutely perfect for a long audiobook (or two!)! So, if anyone has any recommendations I’d be more than happy to hear them!

However, I do have a couple of books that I’ve been sitting on and wanting to read for what feels like forever and I’d like to finally get around to them this month. So I’m putting them here for the world to see and hoping it’ll make me finally read them:-

September TBRIt’s quite a varied pile – as you can probably see. A little bit of non-fiction, modern classic, science fiction, and a very literary book. But I think it’s a good pile for me to be picking from as it’s quite varied.

I would also like to read a classic this month but as of yet I haven’t decided what it’ll be. I may find a meaty one to listen to as an audiobook at the end of the month in the car! We shall just have to see.

As I said, if anyone has any recommendations for good, long audiobooks drop them down in the comments because I’m always excited to have a new audiobook!

As always, thanks for reading!

The Briefest of Updates

Hello lovely readers, today I just wanted to check in to say hi, and reassure you all that I’m still alive. I’ve had quite a few people find my blog in the last few weeks I’ve not been posting and just wanted to say welcome to you, and also say hi to the people who have been reading since thestart. 

I’ve not been reading lately. Where most people have summer sprints and love nothing more than sitting out in the sun with a good book, I’m the exact opposite. When that sun comes out and it starts getting warmer, the last thing I feel like doing is reading. 

In the last couple of months I’ve read only Stay With Me and some of War and Peace. And I’m okay with that. I’ve already reached my goal on Goodreads of reading 50 books. 

I will be back reading soon, of that I’m certain, and I will be reviewing Stay With Me eventually, and War and Peace when it’s finished. I’m thinking by the start of August normal service will resume. 

Anyway, I am now off to spend a day catching up with one of my best friends and anticipate buying some new clothes in Joules, maybe a bath bomb in lush and generally treat myself. Though, I haven’t bought books in a while and maybe feel a haul coming on!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking around! 

May Wrap Up

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It’s been a very long time since I read enough in a month to warrant a wrap up – but being off work sick for the majority of the month has meant that I’ve got a lot more reading than usual under my belt. Books are the only thing that have kept me sane this month, so I thought it a good time to reinstate wrap-ups. I’m hoping they’ll become a regular thing again, because I do have a very nice spreadsheet with lots of data on, and it seems a shame not to share it!

So, this month I read a total of 19 things – which is insane. It doubled my total books read this year. 10 of them were graphic novels – I read Volumes 1-4 of Lumberjanes and also started reading the Marvel interpretations/graphic novels of The Wizard of Oz. I found they’ve been a really good distraction on bad days when I can’t focus on too many words or big plots but still want to feel like I’ve been achieving something. I’m still not sure if I’m going to do full reviews of graphic novels, or wait until I’ve finished a bulk of them and do more mass-reviewing. Let me know what you think would be best!

Of the 11 other books, it was a really good mix between literary fiction, short stories, non fiction, classics, and even a couple of kids books! I really enjoyed everything I read this month aside from The Seamstress and the Wind. My average rating was a whopping 3.7 – and as someone who is an eternal 3* reviewer that was quite impressive for me (taking out the graphic novels it’s 3.6 average). As for pages, I read a massive 4658 – which for me is boggling. The last time I read that much was July 2015 (according to my spreadsheet) – given the place I was in then compared to now, I don’t know how I’ve done it!

My favourite books this month, by country miles, were My Cousin Rachel and Crime and Punishment. I really can’t wait for next month for more du Maurier and also starting another Russian behemoth of a book – War and Peace. I can’t wait to get started on that tomorrow for the readalong that Ange & Yamini are hosting (Goodreads group can be found here with links to all the information).

Next month is looking to be another tough one – I’m still not back at work, I’m still signed off but I’m looking at maybe doing a phased return, which would be a much better balance for me all things considered. I’ve got a lot of life-things happening next month – my baby sister is 21, I’m going on holiday at the end of the month, and I am HOPEFULLY getting a tattoo (health permitting!)

I’m not going to do a TBR, because alongside War and Peace I have no idea what I’ll be reading. I will however probably do a holiday TBR closer to the event!

I hope you all have had a wonderful May & that your June is full of sunshine and books.

Thanks for reading!

Blog: Happy International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! (or a not so happy day if you’re me)

May 12th marks the day on which Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) are actually recognised. For those who don’t know what either of those conditions are, they’re multifaceted conditions which cause extreme (chronic) fatigue and also muscular/joint pains, which cause impact on daily life and inability to carry out seemingly benign or simple tasks. Everyone presents with different symptoms, different levels of pain and ability – they’re most certainly conditions on sliding scales, and it’s a scale that can slide in either direction at any time it chooses.

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On Not Reading and Not Giving a Damn

I didn’t pick a book up for the best part of 4 months towards the end of 2016. For a while, that really irritated me, it aggravated me, but then I realised that the time I used to spent reading was being filled with memories (and some really bad TV) and I was happy for the first time in a long time.

The back quarter of 2016 was hard for me. I put not reading, not having the motivation to, entirely down to the fact that after nearly 8 years struggling with depression I was put on antidepressants. It was a turbulent time, my attention span dropped and every day was spent just focusing on getting to the next one. Not many people realise how bad my depression got, even my own family don’t know the true extent of it. And while when I had bad periods before I would lose myself in a book, I chose to lose myself in other things this time – time with friends, positive experiences, making plans. I threw myself in to living and I really can’t feel anything but happy that I have friends and family that supported me through some of the toughest months of my life. They dragged me out of bed, they made me go out and live my life. Gave me reason to keep going.

Looking forward, I’m positive. I have a good job, with great people. I have amazing friends. And I’m excited to start reading again. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.

So Happy 2017 folks.

Normal, bookish service will return shortly.