September + October book club

Since going back to school in September, reading (unfortunately) has taken a step back – as much as I love it I just find it hard sometimes to sit down and read because I’m always thinking of school! Over the course of the next few months, my book club posts are going to become much more sporadic: instead of posting a bimonthly round-up of everything I’ve read, I’ll probably wait until I have 5 or 6 books to talk about which, judging by how little I’ve read recently, will be around every 3 to 4 months.

I was talking to my English Language teacher about dystopian fiction and how much I love it and she recommended me a book called Station Eleven which I hadn’t heard of. I told her I’d look into it because her summary of it sounded really interesting. I forgot to look actually, but I’m glad about that because in my next lesson with her she’d bought it for me! *cue heart melting* I really really enjoyed reading Station Eleven; there are several different viewpoints and settings which the narrative flicks between, and you’re left trying to figure out how all of the characters interconnect which I love! I won’t give away many spoilers, but around the time that I started reading it a plane was put into quarantine, and I was genuinely so immersed in the story that I thought it had started to come to life (a scary thought, huh).

Talking of scary, I also read We Need to Talk About Kevin. I never usually say this about books, but I hated it. I really and truly hated it. I didn’t connect to any of the characters – not even cute lil Cecelia – and I disliked the whole plot line; you know from the outset that something awful is going to happen, but you have to read alllll the way to the end to find out what it is. Parts made me feel physically sick, such as when Kevin is in the bathroom with the door deliberately left open and his mother can see everything – I won’t go into much more detail, reader, but if you fancy a disturbing read, I recommend. Personally though, I won’t be returning in a hurry 😅

After my draining experience with We Need to Talk About Kevin I decided to relieve my brain a little, so I started Bridget Jones’s Diary. Again, this is unusual, but I preferred the film to the book! Maybe it was the winning combo of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth…who knows? 😉

Finally, I’ve read The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, because I again just wanted something lighthearted. I hadn’t actually read the cover before I started but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it – I’d bought it spontaneously after seeing it for £1 in a charity shop, I hadn’t been specifically looking to buy and read it. That said, I’ve read one of Nelson’s other books and enjoyed that, so I don’t know why I had low expectations – overall though, it was a cute story (if a little weird in parts haha, I’m looking at you Lennie + Toby!)

Currently I’m reading Jane Eyre which I love: I remember, when I was 7 or 8, my mum read it aloud to me because I loved everything about learning and education and Jane is a governess, but I haven’t read it since then and suddenly got the urge.

Have a lovely rest of the week x

(PS – unusually, there are no photos for this post: my apologies!! I’m at school for most of the day everyday and before I leave for school, it’s too dark to take photos. When I come back, the light isn’t great – so enjoy an unrelated photo, plonked in the middle of his post! #makingthebestofthings)

(PPS – I’ve been put through to the second round of the UK Blog Awards, which is SO exciting!! I’ll leave links on all my social media accounts so that you can vote for me if you’d like to – if you do, I’ll be forever grateful! Although I don’t expect to win anything, even to have gone to the second round is such a privilege ❤️❤️)

June, July and August book club

I’ve sorta maybe kinda missed out on a month of book club posts because in June I only read about half a book, which wouldn’t have made a very interesting post. Over summer though i’ve read a lot so I’m just going to share my thoughts on a few books!

I watched the film of Paper Towns not long ago when it was on TV one night and seeing that inspired me to read the book again. I love rereading my old favourite books; it gives me such a sense of nostalgia and I just get so engrossed in the characters and their lives like I used to when I was younger. I think I’ve only read Paper Towns out of all of John Green’s books but I recently also bought Looking for Alaska, and so rereading and loving Paper Towns has made me excited to start that too.

Next up, another old favourite: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It’s just a YA modern classic, I love it, and there’s not much more to say really – if you want a slightly cliche romance with an unusual context, this is the one for you.

You might have seen if you followed my old Instagram account that I became slightly obsessed with book thrifting over the summer holiday – I used to get so many books from charity shops, but then for some reason I just stopped? Anyway, I bought 8 books for £8 (!!) from the British Heart Foundation I think, 3 for £1 at Cancer Research (winner!), one for £1.45 and another for £1.99. I definitely don’t need to buy any more books for a while, haha.

David Nicholls’s “Us” was one of the 8 for £8 books and quite honestly, if I’d paid £8 for that book alone I would have been happy. It’s so good! It’s about 2 of the things I love most – travelling and art – Douglas, a scientist, is trying to win his wife back, and so he takes her and their son on a huge, slightly disastrous interrailing trip around Europe, stopping off at galleries and sightseeing. It was so cool reading about art galleries I’ve been to before and places I want to visit – ahhh, I recommend!!

I’m writing my personal statement at the moment, so I decided to reread some classics: Pride and Prejudice was my first. I read it whilst I was sitting my mock exams and I think in some of the wordier parts where there’s not a lot happening in the plot I got a little bit distracted lol, but saying that I already knew the story and overall I enjoyed it regardless!

I think I mentioned it in a book club post a few months ago but I’m going to use The Picture of Dorian Gray as my English lit coursework so this summer I reread it; tbh, I killed two birds with one stone there as I’m using it for English and I can write about it on my personal statement! (We love life hacks!!!) Again, I love the plot, I love the way the book’s written, I love the philosophical monologues; I love everything about this book. Just read it. Please.

Another book for school – we’re starting Hamlet in English lit so over summer I read the play. I find Shakespeare so interesting but I really struggle understanding what’s actually being said when I just read it to myself, so I listened to the audiobook as I read which helped so much. I’ve never read Hamlet before, I started it once and then gave up pretty quickly because I wanted to read something more lighthearted but it was more enjoyable than I thought. The plot really gripped me actually and I’m excited to study it more in depth in class.

Ok, down to the last two; Huxley’s Brave New World was SO good and I think I’m going to reread it again quite soon tbh. I was reading this as I was reading Hamlet and there are hundreds of references to Shakespeare in the characters’ speech and let me tell you, my mind was blown on several occasions – I read one line in hamlet, it goes something like “treacherous, lecherous, mindless villain” (although I may have got the order wrong there) and then a few minutes later when I picked up Brave New World, I read that exact line! Crazy. I love references in books to other books because when I recognise them, I feel really smart haha 😉 if you’re a fan of dystopian novels and haven’t read this, give it a go – as a quick summary, the world runs on drugs, recreational sex and everything you learn is taught to you in your sleep.

It’s not shown in the photo above but today I finished Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall which I enjoyed but I feel like I was reading it for weeks and didn’t really do it justice. In a few months I’m going to give it another read since I think I had forgotten parts that happened in the beginning, but, when I got into it, the plot was quite intriguing and satirical (which my dry sense of humour appreciates) and yeah, I definitely just need to reread it.

That’s all for this month’s post – I feel like I’ve actually read and written about a substantial amount of books for once!

The book club: April and May

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling kind of swamped in school work – we have mock exams coming up at the beginning of July, which I know sounds like ages away, but I have a fair few uni open days, school trips and a 5-night holiday to contend with, so I don’t feel like I’m going to have a lot of time to prepare! Plus, these mocks contribute to our predicted grades, which could affect which universities will offer a place – eeeekk…

Anyway, one of my favourite forms of procrastination is reading and so talking about reading felt like another equally enjoyable way to put off the mounds of revision I should be doing – so here I am! I didn’t post a Book Club post last month because I was in the middle of a book, and I hadn’t read much that month anyway; from now on though I think I’m going to do two-monthly posts as they’re just more substantial, ya know!?

I’ve enjoyed some r e a l l y good books recently, including The Picture of Dorian Gray. I want to read more classics and I thought this was a good place to start, as it’s an A-Level text in some schools (although not mine) so I figured it’d be a challenge but still something to read just for pleasure. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did to be honest! The philosophical, poetic monologues throughout are so beautiful and I just found the plot really gripping – I’m hoping to actually be able to use it for my English lit coursework too (but I’ll explain more about that in a while.)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: I have to say, I didn’t like this much as I thought I would – not because of the story (even though really, it’s not a story, it used to be real life) or the characters, but simply because it took me a while to get into. I don’t know about you but I like to always start a book when I know I’ve got an hour or two to really get into it, but unfortunately I didn’t have that with The Underground Railroad so I just didn’t feel as connected to it as I do with other plots. Nevertheless, it was a good, yet harrowing, read, and I definitely recommend; in the not-too-distant-future, I’m going to have another read of this because I felt that I really didn’t do it justice.

Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie was my favourite book when I was about 9 or 10 and I found the series on my bookshelf when I was tidying it the other day (it’s got to that point where I have to get rid of some books to make room for my new ones 😫). Since I haven’t read any of the series in about 6 years, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and reread them, and even though the font size is huge and the plot is now incredibly predictable, it was still interesting, and even more so to see how far my reading and book choice has progressed in a few years!!

For my English lit coursework, we have to write a 3000-word essay comparing The Great Gatsby to another book, so I think I’ll probably choose The Picture of Dorian Gray although that’s not definite. I loveloveloved The Great Gatsby (and the film’s pretty good too, made 10 times better by the fact Leonardo DiCaprio stars in it 😍)

One of Us is Lying is a relatively new book I believe, I think it was only published either last year or the year before, and to be honest, I haven’t heard much about it – but honestly, if you haven’t read it, you need to! It was the perfect escapist read: a YA thriller/mystery in which a boy dies from being poisoned by peanut oil in detention. The spiralling events are so clever and detailed and I really loved how information is slowly drip-fed through to you buy the 4 different narrators; a must read!

And finally, I’m currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – I don’t have too much to say about it so far as I’ve only really just started it, although I have immediately warmed to Eleanor. I’ve seen a lot about this book particularly on Instagram so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype, but so far so good 😉

I’m going on holiday to the Netherlands tomorrow so my posting, if existent, will be sporadic – but let me know, either in the comments here or on my instagram, would you prefer to see an Ode to My Younger Self or a Skincare Routine post? I hope things are good with you, sending my love as always! Xxx

Talking: books.

The only thing better than reading a book is talking about that book with somebody who loves books equally as much as you! And recently, I’ve had the pleasure to talk to Eleanor, from eleanorclaudie.com, and the lovely M, from cadmiumxred.

I didn’t write my book club post last month for April, simply because I was in the middle of a book and I didn’t know whether to include it or not, so later on this month/early next month I’m going to write a combined April + May post. I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray and have since recommended it to everyone, M included – and although she hasn’t read it, I can forgive her, since she said “I’ve been obsessed with theatre plays lately, especially Shakespeare’s work! I find just find his way with words fascinating!! I’ve read a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.” Me and you both 😉❤️

Now, I’m not one to gravitate towards a non-fiction book to read in leisure time – sure, I will read some, but I just prefer a good story to delve in to! Saying that though, Eleanor definitely persuaded me to have a look for When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi “because it was so inspiring and touching and I could’ve cried at various points in the novel”. I’m a weepy person anyway so I’m not quiiite sure if I can face the emotional trauma reading this autobiography will bring, but maybe one day I’ll have a grip on my emotions and decide to face it. As a plot though, it sounds truly moving and devastating yet inspirational.

Fun fact: there are around 134 million books in the world (I bet Gutenberg never thought his idea would take hold like it has done haha). It can be a little overwhelming to decide what to read next, or at least it is for me, but recently I’ve found that YouTube is a good place to start – and Eleanor has too! “Estee Lalonde recommended ‘A Little Life’ on her YouTube channel a while ago so I really want to read that [and] Ariel Blisset (❤️ her) recommended All We Shall Know”. I personally want to read some of Sunbeams Jess’s recommendations, although a lot are quite text-heavy so I’ll save them until summer, when I have unlimited time!

From our conversations, a few other book recommendations came up which I’ll list here if you’re stuck on what to read – I’ve got my to-read list updated already, hehe 😊

— Fahrenheit 451: What I love about F451 is how deep it is even though the story is simple, it’s very philosophical! – M

— The Underground Railroad

— Leviathan: because Thomas Hobbes is a political philosopher that we look at for the Stuart’s in history. – Eleanor

— If This Is A Man: I think I’m going to read a few more history books during the summer for my uni application such as if this is a man by Primo Levi (it’s about someone who survives the holocaust). – Eleanor

— Frankenstein

A big thank you to both M and Eleanor for talking books with me, and if you have any time, check out their blogs (they’re both very very cool people!)

The book club: March

It’s finally the Easter holidays and my aim is to have read at least 2 books by the end, so hopefully next month’s post will be full with mini book reviews!! This month I’ve really enjoyed The Power, by Naomi Alderman – it was such a gripping storyline, I’d read it within days!

If you’re an astute reader of mine (actually, you don’t even have to be that astute because I say it practically every other sentence), my dream uni is Cambridge to do a degree in Linguistics, so I’ve been fuelling my interest in that this month by finally getting round to finishing Linguistics – A Very Short Introduction, by PH Matthews. I’m entering an essay competition and I’m hoping that reading around the subject a lot will help me with that, and in turn with my UCAS personal statement.

Next week we’re going to Stratford upon Avon so I felt it only right to delve into Hamlet, and I’m also going to start The Picture of Dorian Gray within the next few days which I’m really excited to read!

The book club: February

Hey hey hey, it’s a new month so it’s a new update on the book front 🙂

I’m pretty sure I said this in January as well but February has not been my month for reading. I’ve managed to strain my eyes and I was suffering a little bit with that for about a week so I’ve been trying to limit the amount of reading (and other close work) I do this month to try and help them recover – which I’m sure you’ll be glad to know has worked!!

I finished Birdsong which was so good and I will happily admit, I cried 😂 I won’t give any spoilers, but I thought the naming of the child was just so sentimental and touching and…yeah, I cried.

I’m currently on To Kill a Mockingbird which I love so far; it’s one of those modern classics that I’ve just never read! I’m also reading Linguistics: A Very Short Introduction which is part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction series – I find it very interesting and engaging (as it’s the subject I want to take at uni probably!) but difficult to read in parts. I think it’s just the amount of information you’re being told and how hard you have to concentrate to fully get your head around some of the concepts, but nevertheless I still love it and if you’re interested in languages I definitely recommend!

I’m sorry this has been another short post but as I say, I’ve been struggling a bit with my eyes recently, but hopefully now that they’re feeling a lot better I’ll be able to read more. Let me know what books you’ve been enjoying recently, and if you have any blog post ideas!

The book club: January

It’s no lie that January is a bleak and miserable month, but it’s also been a hectic one, hence my lack of reading *cue the tears and sad music*

But this month I have read a few books – Catcher in the Rye and Murder on the Orient Express – and I thought for this week’s post I’d just give a quick review of them.

Murder on the Orient Express – the film has recently come out but I always like to read a book before I see the movie, I’m not sure if that’s just me?! Anyway, I asked for the book for Christmas and I read it within a few days in the holiday; I enjoyed it a lot!! There were some plot twists that I wasn’t expecting and I definitely think I’ll have to see the film now.

Catcher in the Rye – as I finished this book, I was left a little confused: somehow, I’d completely missed that Holden, the narrator, speaks from inside some sort of institution?! I reached the end and I thought it was only then that he was going to this place. I honestly have no idea how I overlooked that fact because after looking at various summaries to see what I’d missed, several said that there were clear hints throughout 😂 however, I’m going to read this again at some point this year and I really enjoyed it as a story.

I’m reading Birdsong currently and it’s a very touching, poignant story. I feel like it’s one of those books that you can’t really like, just because of the subject of it, but it’s sadly very realistic and harrowing to think of what happening during the War.

For English Lit I’m reading Frankenstein too and I was dreading starting it, I won’t lie, simply, because I thought it was going to be very heavy-going. However, now that I’m getting into the plot line a little more, I’m actually excited to carry on reading it, so that’s a plus (and a surprise!)

I need to prioritise reading a more next month and I have the order of the books I’m going to read written down so hopefully, this post in a month’s time will be somewhat more entertaining 😊

Cara x