Post-Deadline TBR

At the end of September I will hand in the final 40,000 words for my Masters course. I have loved this year – it has taught me so much and given me great opportunities. But it has also cut down on my reading time. This time last year I was about thirteen books ahead of where I am now. Overall, I’m pleased with how much I’ve read alongside studying, but of course I still have a stack of books I haven’t read for now which I want to read once I’m done. Below are a few of those…

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Holiday Book Haul

Another holiday in the Lake District, and I have come home again with a lovely stack of books. The little bit of Cumbria that my husband and I have visited with friends over the past few years has several lovely independent bookshops, most particularly Fred Holdsworth in Ambleside and Sam Read in Grasmere.

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#HarryPotter20

Monday 26th June 2017 marked twenty years since the original publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Everywhere you turn online, someone is telling you what they love about this series, so I’m sure you’ve heard everything I can say on that subject elsewhere already. Instead, this is a mini shelf tour of my Harry Potter collcetion. In itself, this shelf is evidence of my love for the series.

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Summer 2017 Top ‘TBR’

As a rule, I don’t like to write prescriptive TBRs. I usually don’t manage to stick to them. But I have so many unread books on my shelves at the moment that it’s starting to feel like a little bit of planning might be necessary to be sure I’m paying attention to the things I really want to. Having so many books around the house makes me very happy, but it also means that browsing as an activity is split between bookcases and rooms.Read More »

Literary Festivals and Expectations

Until a couple of weeks ago, I’d been to fewer bookish events than I would like this year, mostly due to focusing on my MA course. However the arrival of Bath festival was a brilliant chance to get back out and hear some really amazing authors interviewed by amazing people. My health unfortunately meant I didn’t get to everything I wanted – but I did have a great week at what I was able to do.

All of this got me thinking about what makes a good literary event – what is it that we’re looking for when we turn up and take our seat? Someone I know commented on an event being directed towards readers rather than other writers – which surprised me, because that’s what I had expected from this kind of event. But what you walk in expecting will influence how you feel about whatever it actually is.

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Stage ready for Ali Smith at Bath Literary Festival, May 2017

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Chit Chat

I don’t have anything to review this week, so this is just going to be a general life catch-up and witter. This year seems to be going very fast – and I’m sure I say this every single year, but honestly, are we actually really truly (over) halfway through April? Where is time going and how can I get it back?Read More »

Reading… lots of things, slowly

I have yet to finish a book in April. In some ways that makes me sad. GoodReads informs me that I’m four books ‘ahead’ of my target. But for the most part, it isn’t that I haven’t been reading, it’s just that I’m reading more things slowly.

Over the past couple of years since I’ve been setting myself reading goals, my habits have changed. One of the first things I found when I made reading a deliberate action rather than a fortunate occurrence was that I actually finish more books if read them one at a time. Focus is good for me. Perhaps this is related to how much I invest in what I’m reading – reading just one thing is less exhausting. That is particularly pertinent to fiction in some ways, but equally, non-fiction takes a certain amount of attention just to be able to absorb the information and follow the arguments a writer is making.Read More »

Reading Emotionally

Last month I attended a talk about fiction and empathy with the lovely Books inter alia, at which a panel of speakers from neurologists to novelists spoke about empathy as it related to their field of practice. While empathetic reading is incredibly interesting, I found myself linking these subjects up with thoughts I’ve had for a lot longer about emotional engagements with fiction. Empathy is our way in – characters and plot lines we cannot in any way empathise with are bound to struggle. Empathy is a vehicle for investment.

READING AND FEELING

As emotional responses to fiction go, I have quite strong ones. Really good fiction will make me cry, or bounce around in joy, or spend fifteen minutes staring at a wall. I want a piece of fiction to elicit something personal. Read More »

Bookish This or That

I’m in one of those frustrating situations where I have time to devote to writing reviews, but haven’t finished anything to review. I’ve been reading bits here and there, and I’m 450 ino 734 pages of Orhan Pamuk’s A Strangeness in My Mind, which I’m loving – but this January is a much slower reading month for me than it was last year. That’s directly because I’ve been writing more than reading, in terms of reading, I’m not bothered that I’ve slowed down – it just means I’m a  bit low on things to blog about right now.Read More »