A Bit of Everything: Blogging Break

My brain is full.  I have been working kinda sorta nearly all day on the Horrible Essays and have reached the stage where you get a headache and eyeache from the computer screen and it all seems just too hard.  I have just had a chocolate break, am now having a blogging break (yes, I know that won’t help with the computer screen issue, but shh) and am preparing to plunge back in.  I have not entirely kept up with my wonderful plan and still most definitely have The Fear, but I’m on a bit of a mission to get back to up to word count targets now on at least one of the two.  So … go team!

Amongst all this essay stress I’ve still (through sheer determination) managed to keep up with one of my sort-of resolutions, and have been reading every night before bed – and it’s even been something none essay-related.  I’m quite proud of myself, I have to admit.  Yes, yes, I know it’s only the 9th of January, but please just let me have my moment 🙂

As a side note, as well as the reading I’m also finding time to watch Africa on BBC1 – second episode tonight and I am excited!  Anyone else obsessed?  I absolutely adore David Attenborough, and if you aren’t watching then you should be – it’s brilliant!

Back to the books … I finished The Slap a few days ago, and think I’ve finally made up my mind.  The bits I always thought I didn’t like (too much gratuitous sex detail, too much swearing, characters all too horrible/messed up) most definitely still stand.  While I’m not averse to a bit of gritty reality, I refuse to accept (as a couple of Goodreads reviewers have tried to assert) that this means everyone is horrible and ungrateful and entirely closed to compromise.  In fact, I feel quite sorry for people who think that these characters represent the “real world” (as though the one we inhabit is just pretend), because it gives us quite a sad window into their own minds.

Even so, if you were to remove these bits, I quite liked this book.  I’m a big fan of authors who get you to see things from multiple characters’ points of view, one reason for my adoration of The Casual Vacancy, and I did think that the author raised some interesting issues.  I just wish we could have seen at least one or two characters taking some kind of middle ground – that would have linked the story more to reality for me.  I think I probably disliked quite a lot of the characteristics that made the book such a big deal, and I disliked them enough that I wouldn’t recommend it.  Still, I’m sure Christos Tsiolkas has plenty of other recommendations coming from better qualified and more widely distributed sources than this one!

At the moment I’m just finishing Celia Imrie’s autobiography, The Happy Hoofer.  I absolutely love Victoria Wood and Dinnerladies, and have seen Celia Imrie in loads of bits and bobs, like Nanny McPhee and Calendar Girls.  I heard her on Desert Island Discs (yes, I really am 21, honest!) and found her really interesting – she came from a very upper-class family of the kind I always believed to be extinct, and had a horrendous experience of being locked up in a shocking mental hospital because of her anorexia – so I picked up a copy of her book from my Mum.

I’m finding it pretty readable, as expected, but I’m not loving it as I hoped I would.  It is quite personal in some ways, but there’s also a fair bit of name dropping, and I tend to get a bit bored in those parts.  This may well just be down to the fact that I am rubbish when it comes to celebrities, pretty much not interested in the slightest (the Mail Online sidebar is my idea of hell), so I suppose I should blame myself for picking up a celeb autobiography!  I’m not sure quite what it is that I’m not liking, because I do like a good human story, and I adored Stephen Fry’s autobiography, I think there’s just a few too many celeb-spotting moments in it for me.  Think I’m going to head back into good old fiction for a while next – fingers crossed for something I love!

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Book Love: Updates, Updates

Things have been going on, honestly, they just haven’t quite made it onto the blog.  But suffice to say that I’ve been having a wonderfully busy, but somehow still relaxed, final year of uni.  I’m loving being back in Bath (especially after having such a rubbish time in Italy), am living with two amazing housemates, and am genuinely enjoying my degree – does it get better than that?!

Oh, and I might have kinda sorta got a graduate job with Teach First for next year… no doubt there’ll be plenty more to come on that!  I’m still a bit in shock.

I’ve been getting through a few books slowly but surely, some for uni and some just for fun, including J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.  I absolutely adore Harry Potter, so it’s no surprise that I ordered this pretty much immediately.  I know some people seemed a bit disappointed, but I really enjoyed it and the story’s still stuck in my mind.  I think I found it particularly relevant given that my mind’s stuck on Teach First, which works in schools with difficult kids – if you’ve read The Casual Vacancy I’m sure you’ll know what I mean.  My favourite thing, though, was that J.K. Rowling still managed to create a whole world that made Harry Potter so successful – I was totally drawn in.  More please!

At the moment I’m about halfway through The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, but I can’t quite decide what I think about it.  I quite like the story and the structure, but the characters are just all horrible and so crude.  I’ve heard people say that this is just representing real life, but my life is certainly nothing like this.  Think I need a bit more time to make up my mind.

I’m also reading That Woman, the autobiography of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba, but I left it in Bath while I came home for Christmas, so it’s on hold for a while.  I’m quite enjoying autobiographies and there are quite a few on my to-read list – new trend inspired by reading Killing Pablo for a uni presentation I did.  It’s Mark Bowden’s brilliant telling of the story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the havoc he wreaked before finally being tracked down and shot.  I found it totally fascinating, but I’d probably only recommend it to people with a bit of background knowledge/interest in Latin America and/or the USA’s war on drugs.  I am interested in both – so I thought it was great!

Now to plan for next year – bring on the resolutions (sort of)…