Happy New Year!

Let me preemptively wish everyone a Happy New Year! We’re heading into a new year, and this leads to a new chapter and a new challenge.

As I have now completed my studies (or hello, TEFL Course!), I’m going to put a little more effort into my reading. I want to be better read, and a better reviewer.

So, I’m setting myself a few challenges, of which you are welcome to join!

The first challenge:

Book Riot posted their annual Read Harder Challenge, I will be attempting this challenge throughout 2019. I’ll try and separate Book Club from Book Challenge, but some crossing’s over may happen.

I’m also setting myself a goal of reading 50 books this year. This may not seem like a lot to some of you avid readers out there, but considering I only read some 21 books this year, this is going to be a challenge for me. I used to read all the time, and I love reading, but I’ve been so snowed under with reading for courses, that reading for pleasure has slipped to the wayside and reading books quickly is not a thing I am currently able to do.

Now that we’ve got the challenges out of the way, let’s see some stats!

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This blog has managed to get 1,032 views from 554 visitors with 499 likes and 47 comments. How awesome is that?

My top blog post was:

My Book Review on Teresa Driscoll’s I Am Watching You!

This review earned 71 views! How exciting!

Hopefully, 2019 will be just as exciting a year as 2018 will be. Though, with 50 books to read, I can already see me madly trying to catch up as the year progresses. Hopefully you’ll all like to stick around and see how it goes!

Happy New Year, everyone!

My Top 17 Reads of the Year

Ironically, I’ve only managed to finish 17 books this year (I’m discounting all books related to my MA which I’ve read this year), and this is how I would place them in terms of favourite. Most of these weren’t published this year, but I hope you enjoy it either way!

17) Red Phoenix by Larry Bond

16) Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

15) I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

14) The Christmas Forest by Rebecca Boxall

13) That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

12) And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

11) Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

10) The Shining by Stephen King

9) Born Lippy: How To Do Female by Jo Brand

8) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

7) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

6) Release by Patrick Ness

5) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

4) 1984 by George Orwell

3) House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

2) Becoming by Michelle Obama

1) The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

 

This was potentially the hardest list I’ve done this year, it was so hard to choose and I moved a few of them around a lot! It was especially difficult between 2 and 1, but The Travelling Cat Chronicles was an amazing novel, and it really touched me and a book I still think about today. Becoming is an equally amazing memoir, and I love Michelle Obama. The choice was so hard!

What’s your favourite books that you’ve read this year? Let me know in the comments!

Do You Over Promote Reading?

For me, reading was a fundamental part of growing up. I could always be found with a book, and to this day, I can’t really place where my love for reading came from. Even down to when I was a lot younger, I would make sure to read a chapter of a book before going to bed in the night.

This is not the same for every person out there, and there are people in the world who never pick up a book outside of the classroom, or haven’t picked up a book since they left the classroom.

So, where does the love for literature come from?

 

My siblings don’t read, if not for the lack of trying on my part. I always leave suggestions, or buy books for them, but they are never read.

How do you get people to read? If you teach, how do you inspire the next generation of readers? Amongst your classroom’s a new novelist could be born, and that’s exciting! Literature is such an important part of my life, and I love being able to share that passion.

But, do I over promote?

A colleague of mine at work raised a point with me before. Why is my passion for reading, and my patience for reading, different say to him playing video games? He finds that playing video games stimulates me, and gets him to think in ways that I find reading does for me.

Perhaps it is me being biased, and with a lot of studies currently being taken place into the value of reading, but I have never considered playing video games as something worth paying attention to, but if playing video games gives someone the same feeling of relaxation and stress-relief as a book, why am I judging?

I find that it is complicated.

Not everyone is a reader, and I will one day learn to accept that. Reading is my escape, but it is not the same escape to others.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

The Audiobook

I’ve never considered a snob when it comes to reading. I’ll read anything.

Perhaps when I was younger and the e-readers were just coming out and becoming a thing I was perhaps slightly snobby and refused to cave.

Since then, I’ve found the joys in reading on my kindle, but I have also continued my love for the paper book.

I’ve recently also got into audiobooks. I found I was getting really anxious on my drives to and from work, and reading has always been a way of calming down. Unfortunately I can’t read whilst driving.

So, I’ve started to listen to audiobooks. This week, my journey’s have been so much calmer and funner. I’ve been listening to Don Quixote, and it’s been so enjoyable.

The only drawback I’ve found so far is I find I don’t take everything in? But that’s usually when I’m too focused on driving.

I’ve learnt a new way to appreciate literature, and my driving time has been a lot less rage and anxiety filled.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

What’re your recommended audiobooks? Let me know in the comments so I can make a list!

Your First Memory of Books

My first prominent memory of books and reading comes from my grandmother.

My grandmother was harsh, stern and silent from my memories (she passed away when I was 12), but in her home there was always a locked glass cabinet of books. All of them is various stages of disrepair. I remember always looking at the books, wondering what they were about.

I remember once getting brave enough to ask to read one, and she produced a key seemingly from nowhere, and unlocked it. I wasn’t given a choice, but I was given a book.

I really struggled with it. I wasn’t very old, and the words were foreign and in small writing. I’d never read a book in English before, not on my own. My schooling was all through the medium of Welsh, and thus, all the books I’d ever learnt to read were in Welsh. I’d never encountered an English book on my own before.

Sitting there, I found it really hard, but I remember loving the feel of the pages, turning the pages. But, it had sparked something. I needed to know more.

She never read those books to me, and I struggled to form the sounds of the words in my head as I read them. English words are a lot different to Welsh words, and the letters sound different.

I haven’t seen those books in a long time, and I don’t even remember what they were called. I remember the bright red and yellow covers, I remember the sellotape holding some of them together. But, they were my grandmother’s prized books, and I remember being so excited to get to finally read them.

There are two people in my life who I can thank for my love of literature, and my desire to study literature. The first would be my grandmother, for allowing me to read those books, or at least attempt, and then for her unwavering loyalty to my growing hunger for the page. I remember she used to collect stamps from the paper and get books from stamps just for me.

The second would be my English teacher in comprehensive school. Her passion and enthusiasm for the written word and the joys fo understanding the words presented in front of you inspired me to try and understand literature in the same way.

I have a lot to be grateful for, and I owe these two people a lot for who I am today.

What’s your first memory of books? Let me know!

Why Would You Ban a Book?

As Banned Books Week continues, it’s given me a chance to think about why you would ban a book.

Reading has multiple purposes and it’s purposes vary between the reader.

For me, reading is about learning and relaxing. Reading gives me pleasure and entertainment. For some it is a chore.

But what makes someone think that a book is outrages?

What makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower bad? What makes Harry Potter bad?

I’ve thought about it a lot over the last week, and I can’t figure it out. A lot of the books that appears on the lists of the most challenged books in the US are ones that I clung to growing up. The topics in The Perks of Being A Wallflower are admittedly heavy, but for some they are necessary. Yes, there is drug use and memories of child molestation, but it is also a book about acceptance, and learning that you don’t need to fit into society.

It’s boggles me how anyone would want to stifle literature in such a way that someone would not be able to access them?

If you have any thoughts on this let me know! I think weeks like this inspire discussion on censorship and the way we handle the content of literature, and something that definitely needs to be discussed.