Wellcome Prize 2017

Over the weekend I made what I would call a slightly bonkers decision – on flicking through the internet, trying to find what books to read next – I was looking at prize lists and finding no inspiration. Then I found a blog post somewhere which reminded me of the existence of the Wellcome Prize.

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Wellcome Book Prize is an annual prize. Eligible books are those which have central themes of medicine, health, illness, or biosciences. Because of this broad criteria the lists of books nominated are from a number of genres – both fiction and non-fiction, but can span across any sub-genres of those.

The Wellcome website says this:

At some point, medicine touches all our lives. Books that find stories in those brushes with medicine are ones that add new meaning to what it means to be human. The subjects these books grapple with might include birth and beginnings, illness and loss, pain, memory, and identity. In keeping with its vision and goals, the Wellcome Book Prize aims to excite public interest and encourage debate around these topics.

Wellcome 2017

Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist 2017

The shortlist this year is a combination of books I have had on my radar, books I have already read, and books that having read the blurb I can’t wait to read. Needless to say I’m excited.

The winner will be announced on April 24th 2017 and I’m hoping to get through the 5 I haven’t read in that time. My review of The Tidal Zone – which I read last year but didn’t get around to reviewing – will be coming later this week.

If anyone has read any of the shortlist and wants to push me towards a particular book, I’m always open to suggestions, and I’m always happy to talk about books – and I really think these will all generate some discussion!

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.

July Wrap Up and an August TBR

07 - july wrapup

July was beautiful. It was possibly the most crazy month of my life and I have made so many memories. I was working full time (and managing, something I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do), I graduated, I saw Finding Dory on opening night, and I went to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I laughed until I was crying, I smiled until my face hurt, I got a sun tan, I didn’t fall over on stage when they called my name, I made new friends, I caught up with old ones, played some Pokemon Go and honestly, I didn’t read all that much. But it was amazing and I don’t regret one second of it (okay, I lie, I wish I didn’t wear the heels for graduation).

But, as this is primarily a blog in which I talk about books, that is what I shall do now. I read 5 books, I’m happy with 5 books. Sadly, there were only a couple that I really loved, most of them were 3* reads. I read in total 1964 pages, which I’m pretty happy with, though I would like to see myself break 2000 again soon as I haven’t done that since April!

My favourite book was Animal by Sara Pascoe, closely followed by The Cursed Child (obviously). Animal was better than How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, and I loved that book. As for The Cursed Child, well, it was glorified fanfiction but what can I say, I’m fanfiction trash.

07 - august goalsThis month I want to read the remainder of the books I wanted to read in July and didn’t. So, that’s The Essex SerpentThe Brinks That Built the Houses, Human ActsThe Adventures of the Busts of Eva Peron, and finally The Last Pilot. So that’s the 5 books I definitely want to read, I would like to get around to another classic this month, and maybe some poetry too.

One thing I definitely want to do this month is keep on top of this blog a bit more, and be a bit more structured. I’ve recently lost my mojo when it comes to what I want to say and do on here and, like I said a few months ago, I want to take this more seriously which is something I haven’t been doing as of late and I want that to change. So, consider that a promise!

I’ve got some really fun things planned this month, I’m going to see Sarah Millican on the 8th, I’m helping some friends move in to their first home together, seeing two of my oldest friends and having dinner. So I think it’s going to be good. Life is feeling good, and that’s a little strange if I’m honest.

Have a lovely August!

June Wrap Up and July Goals

06 - june wrapup

Hello lovely readers, I apologise for being slack over the past month – it’s been crazy and not very productive on a reading front! So a brief update of things I achieved this month:

  • I finished my degree
  • I went on holiday (and lovely it was too)
  • I got a job
  • I started a job
  • I GOT A 2:1!!!

That equates to very little reading on the whole. Or rather, I didn’t quite get my ambition of ALL THE BOOKS this month. I instead enjoyed a slow and steady approach to reading, and took time enjoying things like board games with my family and watching TV. I don’t feel guilty in the slightest. I had a really, really lovely month and that’s what matters!

On to the reading, my favourite book by a country mile was Chris Packham’s Fingers in the Sparkle Jar. Though I have to say all the books I read this month were very closely rated, but all for different reasons. It was a pretty varied month, with some non fiction, poetry, fantasy, and mythology/history books in the mix. I did start a few books, which you will hear about in the not so distant future all being well. My average rating was 3.3*, but honestly I didn’t dislike any of the books I read and all of them were by authors I will continue to follow.

06 - july goals

Oh July. More than half way through the year and I can’t quite believe what I have achieved in those 6 months! It’s crazy. So in July I want to actually challenge myself. I want to finally have that epic reading month I’ve been harping on about for most of the year! I have 2 new books that I want to read, several audiobooks I want to get around to and generally a shelf full of books that I want to just devour. So, here’s a little pile of the physical books that I’m hoping to get through, alongside some audiobooks:

File 04-07-2016, 21 14 49

My audiobook collection is quite varied, I want to catch up on my book club books primarily, and also catch up with the Robin Hobb readalong! Basically, lots of catching up via audiobook in the near future!

So, hopefully, you shall be hearing more of me this month! If you’ve read any of these, or want me to read any of these, do let me know and I’ll prioritise them! Thanks for sticking with me folks.

Blog: Taking it Seriously

At the start of this year I decided I wanted to take the things I love to do more seriously. I have a lot of things I like to do, but if you haven’t already worked it out I love books more than most things. As I’ve gone through my degree they’ve become a lot more important to me, as has this blog. But in spite of that personal promise, it took me a long time to realise that this is something I could take more seriously.

Reaching the end of my degree, and not really knowing where I’m going next I put the important things down on paper. Oddly, or not so oddly, reading – and indeed this blog – came out quite close to the top of things I love to put time an effort in to (and feel like I achieve something in doing so!)

To take this more seriously, I gave myself a facelift; new layout, header, and even a new picture of me! Secondly, more importantly, you can now find this blog at ashleighsbookshelf.co.uk. While things will remain, on the whole, the same some things might change up along the way. Needless to say I’m quite excited about this next phase of my blogging experience.

Any suggestions you have for me, or things you’d like to see, I’d love to hear!

Thanks for sticking around

Ashleigh

Blog: The Pain of the Reading Slump

I’m in a reading slump. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had such a big slump. Even when I last posted about being in a slump (December) I still managed to read 9 books in that month. Granted, they were primarily rereads but I still managed to read 9 books! I haven’t even finished one book this month, granted I am reading Les Misérables but a huge, beastly book isn’t normally something that deters me and it still isn’t, I’m really enjoying it but… I’m just not in the mood to read, even though I want to be reading and it’s frustrating. It seems as though those two feelings conflict but they really don’t, I want to read I just don’t feel like it…

I feel pressure to read sometimes, the pressure comes only from myself, but I feel if I’m not reading I’m not producing content for this blog, and that makes me sad because I love this blog. I love writing posts, interacting with those of you who read it and not being able to do that because I’m not doing anything to write about is getting me down.

The main issue I have is I don’t feel I’ve achieved anything. Nothing. I don’t feel I’ve made any significant headway on anything else, least of all my dissertation or any coursework, I’ve not even been watching TV. I just don’t understand where my time has been going or what I’ve been doing with it. I have nothing to show for it.

Gah. I’m feeling really zapped right now. That could also be antibiotics talking as I’m doped up to my eyeballs, but alas. Normal business shall resume soon, I just needed to get this off of my chest!

Blog: Readers Guilt|| Blogmas Day 22

I haven’t picked a book up for a couple of days and, as someone who talks about reading a lot, this makes me feel guilty. It’s a weird feeling because it’s a completely unfounded notion. Noone is going to penalise me for not reading a book for a few days, noone is judging or actively harassing me but I feel I should be reading when I’m spending my free time doing other stuff. I have two shelves full of books, plus an overspill downstairs. I have so many books that I want to be reading but, right now, I just don’t feel like reading.

I’ve really been enjoying watching TV lately and that’s not a bad thing. I love watching TV, especially with my mum as it’s rare she actually enjoys a show that I do. This past couple of weeks I’ve got my mum hooked on one of my favourite TV shows – Major Crimes. I’ve had a tonne recorded and as she had a day off we genuinely sat and watched 6 episodes pretty much back to back today and it was fantastic. We rarely get to spend time just loafing about watching telly so it’s been really, really great to be able to do that. I also watched The Good Life Christmas special. Twice. 1970s comedy was gold, especially The Good Life, I just love it so very much.

But I have this pressure on me wherein I feel I ought to be reading. The pressure comes from noone but myself, which is why it’s especially annoying, but it’s fuelled by reading goals and targets I set myself. It’s fuelled by watching other people read obscene amounts and wanting to keep up with the best of them. Essentially, I have a reading inferiority complex.

Now, I’ve read 94 books this year and I want to make it to a nice, round 100. Can I do that? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I want to enjoy time with my family, I want to watch TV and make shortbread and sing Christmas songs (badly, I must add, as I currently have the tail end of flu and sound like a 96 year old man with emphysema). What I also know is this pressure I put myself under has me wanting to read less.

So, I’m not reading right now and I’m starting to feel okay about that.

Blog: Trips to the Theatre || Blogmas Day 20

I missed another day because of a migraine. I’m going to forgive myself, I hope you enjoyed the peace and quiet!

So today I’m going to talk about my trips to the theatre this year and trips I hope to take because I’ve really got in to theatre this year, I always enjoyed going to see something or other but I’ve actively tried to go see different things this year and I’ve loved it. Not many people realise that I’m a complete theatre nerd, but along with tea I think theatre goes hand in hand with reading books.

My local theatre used to be pretty poor when it came to touring productions, now it’s attracting a LOT of shows on tour which I’m so grateful for. It only started showing things after Les Mis sold out two weeks and the West End realised that people in Norfolk do want to see shows and the like. It’s a relatively small theatre which limits a lot of the shows we get but what it does get is usually fantastic. Anyway, what I have seen this year is a bit eclectic actually.  Continue reading

Blog: A Migraine is Not Just a Headache || Blogmas Day 17

I felt like a failure yesterday because I wasn’t able to blog. When I commit to something I intend to see it through so failing to blog on the 16th day of blogmas really had me beating myself up. It’s silly, it’s stupid but it’s the kind of person I am. All because I had a migraine.

I’m still unwell, I’m a little better than I was yesterday but still struggling. It’s taken me all day, in short bursts, to actually write this. I’ve slept most of the last 48 hours and when I’m awake it’s not just a headache, migraines completely drain you of all energy. They affect me by making me feel sick, in combination with the CFS symptoms I was pretty much bed bound for 2 days – needing help to just get from one room to another because I can’t walk straight and every movement had me near tears. It’s like being pissed without any of the fun!

There are so many symptoms that make a migraine more than a headache. Seeing stars isn’t just a myth. My senses all become very sensitive; smells make me feel nauseous. I become really sensitive to touch – both from people and stationary objects, just a blanket is enough to make me uncomfortable. Everything is stupidly loud, every noise is too much. There is nothing worse than being unwell and also being unable to do anything, which is pretty much what a migraine leaves me with. I can’t read, I can’t watch TV or listen to music, I can’t even use my laptop! Sensory overload.

So hopefully normal service will resume soon. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon.

Books My Sister Has Bought Me || Blogmas Day 14

One thing I love about my sister is she has a beautiful taste in books and is normally drawn in by a beautiful cover. My sister is one of the most creative people I know, her own artwork is incredible and because she’s so artistic I think she has more appreciation for the artwork that goes in to a book than the words in the pages. Naturally, because of her appreciation for a beautiful book she has given me some corkers over the years.

20151214_194708028_iOS

There are many more, I am sure, but these are the ones she has gifted me in the recent years… and she wanted to take the picture so included an apple. Because that’s how my sister rolls.

The Penguin editions speak for themselves. She tends to treat me to one of those a year but likes to find other beautiful books for me to have on my shelves. She also bought both The Bone Clocks and The Book of Strange New Things for me which are incredibly beautiful covers.

However, the two books I want to look at more are Black Beauty and Harry Potter Page to Screen.

Continue reading