Goodreads Challenge 2019: January

Well, I suppose I can say the year has started well…

I made the resolution to read 52 books this year, one for each week. And I’m very pleased to say I’m already ahead of schedule! Yes, somehow despite getting The Bean Jar published on Amazon (why yes, you should indeed go and check it out) and tying myself into absolute knots over it, I’ve managed to get a decent chunk of reading in, too.

I’ve so far read seven books this year, and reread two. Let’s have a cheesy breakdown…

Continue reading

Goodreads Challenge: 2018’s Best And Worse

Last year, I declared myself done with new year’s resolutions. I’m not the kind of person who vows to exercise more, or eat better, or go on any kind of spiritual journey.

Just like life, all I want to do is read.

So I set myself up with a Goodreads challenge, with a modest goal of reading fifty new books in 2018. I knew full well I read far more than that in a year… but the problem was, I’m a chronic rereader. Case in point: I can probably do a one-woman performance of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, at least the first half of it. I find something that I love and I read it over and over and over again. I also wanted to read a bit more non-fiction; it felt a bit like my brain was being neglected and was slowly but surely turning into a puddle of mush sloshing around inside my skull.

A puddle of mush that could recite the opening paragraphs of I Capture the Castle, at any rate.

I’m pleased to announce that I did complete my challenge; in fact, I surpassed it, with 54 new books read in total. Oh, there was a lot of rereading too, something I might actually try and track this year. The vow to read a bit more non-fiction fell a bit by the wayside: out of 54 books, only 8 were non-fiction. Though, I suppose, that’s probably a step up from the year before.

Let’s have some numbers, while I’m at it. In those 54 books, there were 19.542 pages; the shortest was only 84 pages long (probably a bit of a cheat, that one) and the longest clocked in at 850 pages. I gave an average rating of 4.1 stars, but that doesn’t mean a great deal – even books I didn’t really like, I still ended up giving three stars (I’m a sucker for finding at least SOME good points). Only 8 books came from the library, 24 were on Kindle, and 24 were my own physical books (some I bought myself, some were gifts, and some had been languishing on my shelves for months). Ooh, I do enjoy a good stat. I could go on – if I’d done this at the end of the year, like proper bloggers do, I could have done a full statistical analysis…

Anyway.

Let’s have a look at my highs and lows of 2018!

Continue reading

Happy World Book Day!

Today is World Book Day – time to celebrate books and reading and the joy they bring.

I’m sure to many parents this is just another groan in the school calendar – another costume to create, or dig out an old one and tenuously link it to a book. I’m not there yet – Ted’s not even at nursery yet, so no costume needed (though you just know I’d turn him into a teeny tiny Teddy Lupin, multicoloured hair and all). But if it ever stops snowing, I’m taking him to World Book Day events at our local library and bookshop anyway.

That’s a point: there’s bound to be plenty of parents out there who have constructed painstakingly detailed costumes only to be faced with a snow day. Does this mean we can have another World Book Day to celebrate their efforts? I’m up for it.

It’s so important to instill a love of reading. So, so important. To just hit the tip of the iceberg of benefits, it makes you live longer.

(graphic from the National Literacy Trust)

If there’s one thing I hate to hear, it’s “books are boring”. See also: “I’d rather watch the film”. Ugh. It makes me cringe and rage in equal measure.

Simply put, books have shaped my life, and have played a huge part in defining who I am today.

Continue reading

Goodreads Challenge 2018

Oh, I know I’m terrible for this. Every year I talk about blasted new year’s resolutions, and every year I ignore them until approximately November, shrug, and mark up another year of failure.

But here I go again!

This time, I’m not doing traditional new year’s resolutions. Instead, I’m finally going to put my Goodreads account to use and I’m doing a reading challenge!

Fifty new books in a year is achievable, right?

Continue reading

52 Weeks, 52 Books

As I may have mentioned before, I’m not doing any of those New Year’s bullshit resolutions this year. I can’t remember what mine were last year, and I don’t particularly want to check, because I don’t fancy being confronted with my own failure.

I am the master of burying my head in the sand.

Seeing as the only concrete resolution I can come up with is to get a Tolkien-related tattoo at some point this year, I’ve decided to set myself the 52 Weeks, 52 Books challenge instead.

Obviously, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. I read 52 books in 52 weeks. Lots of people already do this challenge on Goodreads and Reddit and various other places, but I’m just setting my own rules on this one.

I’m running Sunday to Sunday on this, so I’m starting my first book today. I am obviously allowed to read more than 52 books, but once I’ve set myself a particular book (to be documented in The Notebook) it has to be finished within the week. At least one of the books each month has to be something completely new to me. Not necessarily new as in newly published, just something I’ve never personally read before. I can choose these books by trotting into Waterstones or just browsing on the Kindle store, and they can be expensive hardbacks or free eBooks, it doesn’t matter.

IMG_20160102_102900

The Notebook. Where many things shall be written.

The whole point of this challenge is to make me actually think about what I’m reading and not read the same books over and over again. I want to actually analyse what I’m reading, really get my old English Literature head on. My brain is starting to feel like it’s stagnating in a big puddle of coffee, and I need to fine-tune it. Well, give it a good whack with a wrench at any rate.

I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve always been a big reader, and I’m interested to see if I really do read as much as I think I do – or if it’s more. This challenge might turn out to be really easy. Or it might turn out to be cripplingly hard. I genuinely don’t know, and I’m excited to find out.

Rereading List: June 2014

Two days off work have been absolute bliss. I had so many plans: I was going to plod on with my stuck-in-a-corner editing, turn the house from the Pit of Hell into – well, the Pit of Purgatory, perhaps – and I was going to actually leave the house and be sociable. Ha. None of that happened beyond a brief sojourn into the kitchen to tackle Mount Dishes.

Instead, I’ve been collapsed alternately on the bed and the recliner, with my Kindle in one hand and the laptop in the other, with the TV blaring endless boxsets.

I didn’t even have the energy to read anything new. I’ve gone back to my standard comfort-reads, books which make me happy and I can read over and over again. Here’s what I’ve been occupied with for the past two days.

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

Pretty much a given, but I’m determined to reread the whole series – again – before I get married in August. You know, goodbye to childhood and all that. Why yes, I should have said goodbye to childhood approximately seven years ago when I actually left home, but shh. I’m such a Potter fangirl, I have the Deathly Hallows symbol tattooed on my leg and I’m pondering more Potter-related tattoos as I write. For the wedding, we’re making confetti out of old Potter books from charity shops, and it made me feel so physically sick to chop them up that Kev’s got to finish it.

If I go into the full reasoning and explanation of my Potter-love, I’ll be here all week, so I’ll just leave it as that for now.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

This is probably my favourite of all the books I’ve downloaded since I got my precious Kindle eighteen months ago. I’d never heard of this author before, and I was sucked in immediately when I saw its protagonist is obsessed with fanfiction. I’ve had my moments in the world of fanfiction, and I was interested to see it portrayed as something beyond ‘freakdom’ – which, in my experience, the rest of the world has firmly decided it to be.

The book is about a teenager called Cath, who along with her twin sister is just starting college. While her sister, Wren, throws herself into college life, Cath prefers to hide in her room writing epic Simon Snow fanfiction. To keep it short, it’s the story of how Cath branches out and gets a life, while remaining true to herself and her real interests.

I really identify with this story, only I wasn’t as strong as Cath. I tried to change everything about myself as soon as I went to university, wanting to fit in and be liked. I tried to suppress my nerdiness, and tried really hard to like pop music and manicures and girly things. I had a lot of fantastic experiences, but ultimately I ended up depressed.

Anyway, that’s another story. There’s something about Rainbow Rowell’s writing that’s made me read this book again and again without getting bored, it’s like there’s always something new to notice, either in the main story or in the Simon Snow extracts (very much inspired by Harry Potter, obviously). It really is the kind of book you can just sink into and get lost, and then suddenly three hours later hear the front door go and your fiancé’s home from work and you haven’t done any of the washing you’d promised.

Incidentally, the author is touring in the UK next month, which I only realised a couple of days ago. Very annoyed I missed out on tickets for her Liverpool event, which is the closest to me, but there are still tickets for other cities if anyone else wants to go!

Image

 

The Wedding Diaries/The Baby Diaries – Sam Binnie

Now we move to a little set of books that I’ve been rereading almost maniacally of late. You might be able to tell why, looking at the titles. I’m getting married in two months. TWO MONTHS. We’ve not got a massive budget – considering the national average cost for a wedding is something like £20k, we have NO budget – and I can’t stand reading books about huge white weddings more or less falling into the heroine’s hands. They’re just so… fake.

However, ‘The Wedding Diaries’, the diary of Kiki Carlow as she prepares for her marriage, comes across as no-nonsense and totally realistic. It explores a solid relationship, with a great family in the background too, muddling towards their wedding while realising that all the princessy over-the-top dreams can’t come true.

‘The Baby Diaries’, as you can probably predict, follows the same couple as Kiki gets pregnant and has a baby (I don’t think that can count as a spoiler considering the title of the book). Anyone who knows me at the moment can tell from a mile away that I’m the world’s most broody person: it feels like someone is physically tugging at my uterus when I see a baby in my shop, especially the tiny newborns that some people insist on toting around the Trafford Centre.

Throwing my uber-broodiness into the mix, I’ve read this book more than once lately. The story might be a formulaic ‘pregnancy and beyond’ story, but it works, and the characters are some of the most real I’ve encountered. Even though I’m still some way from motherhood myself, I identify with Kiki in so many ways; just off the top of my head, her horror at cutesy names for unborn children (Buglet?!) is right up there with my way of thinking (if I see one more person on Facebook referring to their bump as ‘Bubs’ I might scream).

Above all, it made me think about aspects of my own future that I’d not really considered before. Thanks to research for my own books (too much damn research) I know a lot about pregnancy and childbirth already, but I’d not massively considered the actual parenting choices. I’d definitely not considered attitudes towards my own potential parenting: there’s a scene in this book where Kiki gets more or less shamed off a bus because her baby is crying, and it made me think how I would deal with situations like that myself. More to the point, it reminded me not to be quite so judgy, myself. I’m probably guilty of quite a lot of bus-related tutting.

Image      Image

Sorry, I do find it hard to be particularly succinct when it comes to reviewing books – I just want to bellow “I LIKE IT IT’S GOOD LISTEN TO ME READ THIS”. To be honest, that’s pretty much what happens when I’m in the kitchen at work trying to persuade someone to read something. The point is, I’ve enjoyed these few books to the point of rereading again and again: why not give them a try and see if you feel the same?