The First Book Purchase of 2017

I have finished my first lot of five books from my shelves.

 

So now I can buy 1 new book. YAY! But I’m totally stuck and not sure what to get! I actually feel super aware of my own shelves now and might just pick up another book from my own shelves before I decide on what new book to buy, but here are some books I was thinking about buying (poetry and non-fiction feature heavily):

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Jean (Jean’s Bookish Thoughts) always speaks very highly of Benjamin Zephaniah and I think she’s called him her favourite poet. Although I’m no poetry buff, I’ve been trying to explore poetry a little bit more and thought I’d start with this little book.

 

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I suppose the title is intriguing enough, but this is a book of prose poetry set in a society where gender roles are reversed and when boys reach maturity they grow wings, at which point the women in society begin to objectify them.

🙂

 

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A little book of French alliteration poems? It sounds fun and doesn’t seem terribly difficult.

 

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I’ve had my eye on this series for a while now and, having read the whole of Miss Pas Touche in French, I’m feeling excited by the same team. I’ve heard this one is clever and the victim of the story is not always a terribly lovely person. I love complex characters. They make the story more real and interesting. And, of course, the illustration is just so beautiful.

 

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A neurosurgeon gets diagnosed with (terminal?) lung cancer and this is his story of going from being the doctor to the patient. Kalanithi died in 2015. I’m sure this will be both interesting and very sad, and I’ve heard nothing but praise for it.

 

Which one would you go for?

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Claire: Plans for 2017

2017 

So what’s the plan for 2017?

This year I want to be as feminist as fuck.

The past has been a bit rough on me, 2014 was the year of graduating with my MSc and not flunking, 2015 to finding a damn job, 2016 to keeping the job. So what is 2017? It is the year to win. I won’t be lazy and I won’t do shit I don’t want to do anymore.

  1. Read my own goddamn books and TBR. Yes, you heard me say it, I’m imposing a book buying ban where I won’t spend my own money on books (this creates a bit of a loophole where I can spend other people’s money, like vouchers, but it won’t be my own money so I count it).
  2. Read whatever the hell I want, when I want to
  3. Listen to 5 audiobooks a year (I’ve gotten super into audiobooks in 2016 and want to keep it up).
  4. Try and read more nonfiction, especially feminist nonfiction (so if I have to give it a number I’ll give it 5, nonfiction, any kind of nonfiction)

• • •

I think this is doable, 4 goals, what say you?

What are your 2017 goals?

xx Claire

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Claire: My 2016 in Review

2016claire

My Year In Books

• • •

Goodreads Challenge

Goodreads goal of 50: I read 58 books.

• • •

My resolutions:

  1. Read at least 96 books, novellas, short stories, manga and graphic novels. Failed
  2. Read up to 5 translated works. Failed
  3. Read a book based in or by an author from every continent. Failed
  4. Read all the dragons. At least 5 books on magical creatures! Exceeded
  5. Read at least 10 nonfiction works (max of 2 biographies/memoirs).  Failed
  6. Read 10 books from my physical TBR.  Failed
  7. Read at least 10 books from my Goodreads TBR. Failed
  8. Read from at least 5 different fiction genres (my picks: Fantasy, World Literature, Historical Fiction, Classic, YA or Thriller/Mystery). Exceeded 
  9. Reread 2 book series.Exceeded
  10. 10% of reads should be written by POC authors or with POC main characters. Exceeded
  11. 10% of reads should be written by LGBTQIA authors or include LGBTQIA characters (that have more than 1 line and aren’t token characters).  Failed
  12. Read at least 1 book that explores neurodiversity and 1 that explores disabilities/being differently abled.  Failed
  13. Purchase 1 book per month maximum (I don’t have to but I’m trying to focus on purchasing books I’ll really like versus on a whim).  Failed

• • •

Stats

I failed this year on a lot of my goals. I’m not upset about it really, it  was a shit year for reading. I had was lazy and had too many goals so in the end I committed to nothing and that being said, I don’t feel bad at all about it.

I did, however, start some good things like watch a ton of films thanks to my Cineworld card and become an audiobook addict.

• • •

Book of the my Year

 Favourite Four (physical books):

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations)

 Favourite Three (audio books):

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Book 1 UNABRIDGED By J.K. Rowling, Narrated By Stephen Fry

Sabriel UNABRIDGED By Garth Nix, Narrated By Tim Curry

The Fellowship of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings, Book 1 UNABRIDGED By J. R. R. Tolkien, Narrated By Rob Inglis

 Favourite Two (digital books):

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

So, how was your 2016?

xx Claire

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2016 in Review & 2017 Bookish Resolutions

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My Year In Books

• • •

Goodreads Challenge

Goodreads goal of 75: I read 82 books.

• • •

My resolutions:

  1. Read at least 50 75 books [exceeded]
  2. Read at least 15 books from my TBR [exceeded]
  3. Read at least 50% women authors [exceeded]
  4. Read at least 35% authors of colour [exceeded]
  5. Read at least 25% translated works [22%]
  6. Read at least 15 non-fiction works [exceeded]
  7. Read at least 1 book by a South American author [exceeded]
    1. ADDENDUM: 15 books from around the world [exceeded]
  8. Read at least 3 books by or about someone with a difference (physical or mental) X
  9. Read at least 3 books by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ [exceeded]
  10. Finish a series for the first time ever in my life!!! [done: Harry Potter]
  11. Read at least 1 book over 500 pages???? (maybe?) Nope. But I’m a third of the way into East of Eden and intend to finish it in 2017.

• • •

Stats

My goal was to read 50% women and I have more than achieved that making this (bizarrely) the first year that I read more women than men! I read 54% female authors.

I have read 44% authors of colour which is great since my goal was at least 35%.

22% of my reading has been translated works.

32% of books were from my TBR list. I’ve culled a significant number of books from my list, but have also added books on so the list as whole is sitting at around 205 books. I plan to focus more on reading my own (damn) books in 2017 and cutting into the number of books already on my physical shelves.

57% of my reading has been FREE either from the library or friends or eARCs. THINK OF THE SAVINGS!!£££$$$¥¥¥¢¢¢

• • •

Book of the my Year

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Favourite Five (excluding above & picture books):

• • •

So what’s the plan for 2017?

Goodreads goal of 50 books.

I’m still absolutely loving looking further afield for new reads and have found some new potential favourite authors which is always great! Next year my goals are to read:

  1. at least 50% women
  2. at least 45% POC
  3. at least 5 books by/about LGBTQ+ folks
  4. at least 3 books about mental/physical difference
  5. at least 3 books in French
  6. READ MY OWN DAMN BOOKS (read 5 books I already own before I buy 1 new one)!

• • •

I think that’s all very doable… But I guess we’ll see next year! What are your goals??

 

How was your 2016? Have you made any bookish goals for 2017?

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Already Making Bookish Rules for the New Year

I’ve really got a lot out of setting goals with my reading these past two or three years since jumping into reading regularly. I can confidently say that I like goals, I enjoy a good list, ticking and crossing is fun, and challenges are a mixed bag in practice but, at the core, usually well-intentioned and often worth a try as there are usually some sort of gains at the end regardless. I say all this to remind myself that my first ever official book buying ban is going to be an exciting, fiscally responsible and fulfilling goal..

How am I planning to go about it? Well, I’m doing the basic “read 5 (books that I own right now*—so this does not include library books) before buying 1” thing.

*New books that I buy after reading 5 from my shelves also don’t count to the 5 required to buy another new one….Yeah, let’s make this more complicated than it needs to be.

I can still read library books in between, but I feel like the time between buying books is going to seem even further away doing that since the books I already own are the only ones that count…

I don’t mind the financial part of it too much and, honestly, that’s not huge incentive for me to try this ban. I don’t buy lots of books all the time and I don’t spend loads on them when I do since I mainly buy secondhand. However, I do get anxious knowing there are lots of unread books taking up space on my shelves.

How long will this madness go on!? Until I’ve crossed all 30 unread books on my shelf off my unread list!

After some careful calculations (of mainly simple division), I worked out that after getting through all 30 unread books on my shelves, I will (potentially) have six new books. Then I can read five of those and then buy one new book. Then I’ll only have two unread books on my shelves to read before I’m able to just read as I buy! (Hahah The impossible, unlikely, but forever-doable-seeming dream.)

° ° °

At the moment, it all feels super reasonable. But, like I said, this is the first time I’m giving a proper go at this. Have any of you seriously tried a self-imposed book buying ban? How did it go?

Do you have any tips for conducting a successful book buying ban?

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Non-Fiction November

I’m usually really bad at following themed months but this year I have happily found that I’ve unknowingly read a fair few non-fiction books this November. Let’s take a closer look!

• • •


18521The first book I tackled in November (or rather ‘finished’ since I started it way back in September!) was a re-read of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which I reviewed last week. Although I didn’t love this one, I’m still glad I re-attempted and actually finished it. It feels a little like a feminist rite of passage in a lot of ways I suppose. Like reading one’s first Plath or Atwood? I don’t know.


• • •

25733921It took a sombre turn towards death at that point (a topic I never seem that far from for some reason… I was thinking about doing a post on the books I’ve read and want to read about death, but maybe it’s just me who would be interested in something like that? haha). The second non-fiction book I read this month was Terry Pratchett’s Shaking Hands with Death, which was the transcript of a talk he’d given about assisted death (often called “assisted suicide”) and the right to a good death. This, of course, was inspired by his own battle with a very early diagnosis for a rare and unusual form of Alzheimer’s. It was a sobering read and it made me think about how I feel about those closing chapters and the rights we have in choosing what that end looks like and how I feel about the laws society has in place and whether they are protecting or punishing the vulnerable. Thinking about death isn’t really that depressing to me so much as fascinating. It’s an interesting thought exercise (maybe because I am bothered more by my loved ones dying than by my own death which I’m pretty indifferent about on the whole); so this was an interesting, short read.

Also, being a non-Brit (and mabe because I’m also not deeply into fantasy), I had never really heard of Terry Pratchett until coming to the UK and this is the only book I’ve ever read by him. As I understand it, his books are quite humorous and whimsical and that wry humour was also evident even in this book about such a ‘serious’, ‘dark’ topic. That’s something I appreciated considering how much anger I understand there to have been (at life, at the lack of resources to turn to, etc) when he was first diagnosed and I think that humour probably makes it more palatable for those who might otherwise be a little uncomfortable with picking this one up. It’s only a short book and I (the slowpoke reader that I am) read it one evening in one sitting.


• • •

31857949Next I picked up Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl which was very informative and thought-provoking. Although I didn’t necessarily agree with everything presented, I really appreciated Serano’s well crafted arguments infused (but not overloaded) with her personal experience. She directly or inadvertently raises a lot of interesting questions about what gender is or isn’t or could be, and about how we design it. Different gender privileges are often discussed and there is occasionally some (justifiable) anger present when discussing cis-people’s view of (or ability to be completely ignorant of) gender which I think could be off-putting for many cis-gender folks, but it’s worth getting over the ego and the hurt (and the guilt) to listen to Serano’s point of view. Obviously it would be ridiculous to expect the account and assessments of one (white, middle-class) trans woman to be the definitive book on all trans discussion, so I will certainly be reading more accounts of other people from the less mainstream(?) parts within (and without) the gender spectrum in future. Although I have been aware of many of these gender issues before, it’s been a while since a book hasn’t just informed me of new things, but challenged me too (not just as it relates to gender, but in general).

I actually got this one on audiobook from my library and it took time to adjust to Serano’s strong, awkwardly dramatic American twang so, for that reason and because you’ll probably want to underline, re-read passages and/or make notes, I would probably recommend picking up the print version.


• • •

15798883And lastly, this month I read Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom (which, I found out later, also happens to be Emma Watson’s book club pick at the moment). I actually found this very lovely and entertaining despite my initial doubts when picking it up. I wasn’t that bothered about Angelou’s more famous work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and this collection of memories includes or alludes, in part or in whole, to stories told in that book, but I got on with this book better. The focus on stories about her mother, the way she makes her mum out to be such a charismatic and inspiring (but still very human) woman and the lessons learned from her in particular are probably part of my slightly different feelings about the two memoirs. I’m really glad I picked up the audiobook for this one (read by Angelou herself). It felt comfortingly like being told life stories by a grandparent.


• • •

This was a really great month for me in terms of reading books that both interested and challenged me (non-fiction and otherwise). I’m going to really try to make an effort to take part again next year, as well as continuing to incorporate non-fiction into my general reading throughout the year.

Whether you set out to take part in non-fiction November or if, like me, you just happened to have read a lot of non-fiction this month by chance, what’s are some of your favourite non-fiction recommendations?

Do you have any non-fiction reads high on your wishlist? At the moment, (other than the ones I’m currently reading) here are some of mine:

(Can you guess why? …hah…)

Posted in Bitchin' Rundown, Book Reviews, NonFiction, Reading Challenges, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments

Review :: A Room of One’s Own

A review of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

SUMMARY

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A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on 24 October 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women’s colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled “Women and Fiction”, and hence the essay, are considered non-fiction. The essay is generally seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.

• • •

I’ve mentioned before that I’m more likely to reread a book that I didn’t get on too well with than one I loved and that is precisely what inspired this second attempt at reading A Room of One’s Own.

So I first attempted this one two years ago and had this to say about it:

23 April 2014
I didn’t finish this book. I read the sample (first 13 pages out of 111) via the Kindle App and I don’t think it’s bad, but I’m going to have to put it down. It’s just not for me. The poetic language and apparent pointlessness bored me; I never really got on well with this kind of writing style – similar to Heart of Darkness, but less intensity and purpose, more aimlessness. But that’s completely down to tastes. It’s short enough that I probably could continue it… but I can’t really be bothered. And I’m sure it’ll come to a point, but I just can’t right now. Maybe some other time I’ll pick it up again and give it another go. If I do I’ll reassess.

This was a kind version of what I felt about it. I wanted to be fair when really my initial reaction was that it was written in such a flowery style that got in the way of any points making or getting towards making. And this apparent “all set-up leading to nowhere” style felt like a waste of my time and it frustrated me. I didn’t care for it.

Now, two years later, I did re-read it (via the Kobo app) and I have reassessed. I went in prepared for flowery description and diary-like wonderings. It definitely got better once I pushed through the fluffy, meandering beginning, but it wasn’t as impressive to me as I was hoping even accounting for the time it was written. I mean, I enjoyed Herland* (written 13 years prior to this) for the reasons I was hoping to enjoy this book.
*But I suppose Virginia Woolf would have criticised Herland for being too bitter/gendered..

I liked some parts and disagreed with others (sometimes because her ideas are just outdated now and other times because we just see the world differently perhaps). But, if I’m honest, a lot of the time, I was a little bored. And the boredom has nothing to do with this being a classic either. I love classics and am well accustomed to their humble, less flashy, sometimes “dry”-seeming style. I didn’t hate this by any means…but I was sometimes less than enamoured with her way of getting her points across. The style was the main problem for me. Some people love it though. Read a sample (even a few pages) and you’ll be able to assess if it will be a turn off for you or not.

So, yeah. I guess I’m glad I read it after all…but maybe just for the fact that I can say I have an informed opinion about it. Was it worth my time? Hmm…I’m not totally convinced. And I wouldn’t call it a must-read.. It’s a two stars for me with the occasional three (or even four) star quotes here or there.

rating: ★★☆☆☆
genre: non-fiction, feminism
publisher: Penguin Books Limited
source: Kobobooks
date read: 2 November 2016
recommend for: anyone interested in feminist classics, feminist history or Virginia Woolf
pros: a few good points, feminist history
cons: a little outdated, flowery and meandering style, somewhat boring


Nikki

Posted in Book Reviews, NonFiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Unhaul

I get rid of stuff pretty regularly (clothes, books, appliances, etc) and it has definitely come time to unhaul a few more books. I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t been at least a little encouraged by having recently finished Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. So, without any further ado, here’s what I’m unhauling:

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The following is a list of the books in case you can’t read some of the titles (…since I screencapped the image from a Facebook post I made to see if any of my friends want to claim my books before I take them to the charity shop! haha)

THE DHAMMAPADA by Anonymous (non-fiction)
THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang (fiction)
THE WOMAN WARRIOR by Maxine Hong-Kingston (highly(!) fictionalised/narrative(?) non-fiction)
THE ICARUS GIRL by Helen Oyeyemi (fiction)
*THE REDEEMER by Jo Nesbo (fiction)
THE SECRET ADVERSARY by Agatha Christie (fiction)
BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay (non-fiction)
CORALINE by Neil Gaiman (fiction)
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER by Jamaica Kincaid (fiction)
THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS by Albert Camus (non-fiction)
KITCHEN by Banana Yoshimoto (fiction)
*SNOOP by Sam Gosling (non-fiction)
THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien (fiction)
THE GUEST CAT by Takashi Hiraide (fiction)
*AN ASTRONAUT’S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH by Chris Hadfield (non-fiction)

*Asterisk means I haven’t read it but the main reason I get rid of books I haven’t read is because I acquired them on a whim and still haven’t read them a year or so later and have no strong desire to change that situation.

There’s something really nice about getting rid of things in general and I definitely feel that when I make room on my bookshelves. I know there’s a quote about not really loving a book if you’ve only read it once, but that’s bullshit…IMHO. The book has served a great purpose by serendipitously coming to you at the right time to give you just what you need. That’s enough. That’s all one can hope from it. If it is able to do more upon further re-readings, then great! And that should be treasured too. But the love is no less real if you don’t feel any desire to challenge your previous wonderful experience of the book. Life is too short to be bullied by aggressive re-readers who want you to read the same way they do before permitting you to  be able to say you love something or call it your favourite.

As someone who doesn’t reread often, when I’m honest with myself about whether it’s worth keeping a book on my shelf, it’s not really that hard to let things go even if it’s a book I loved. Those are the books I often gift to friends to share the love. Ironically, I sometimes find it more difficult to unhaul a book I didn’t love because I want to give it a second chance to impress me or to at least give me something before I get rid of it. In fact, I’d say I’ve re-read more books that I first hated(!) than ones I’ve loved. And that has been really interesting for me. Which isn’t to say I’ll re-read all the books I’ve ever disliked… But some of them have definitely benefited from the second chance.

Clearing out my shelves is often also a great opportunity to think about what things I want to keep and discard in my life generally. I find it really healthy for my mental well-being and it’s interesting to learn new tiny things about myself through this process of decision-making and discarding.

How about you?

If you unhaul books too, how often and what’s your criteria for letting a book go?

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