Summer reading plans (& life update)

It’s summer! At least, it certainly feels like it. It’s expected to climb to 26C on the south coast of the UK today, which is already about 8C more than my personal comfortable temperature. (I appreciate those of you in any country with more extreme weather will probably laugh at this). Because I spend a lot of my time on neonatal units around heated incubators and cots, I am feeling the heat particularly acutely this year. Continue reading

2017 Plans and Priorities

I’m not going to set goals for my blogging this year, exactly. Last year, my biggest goal was to finish my PhD, and here I am, still doctorate-less, when almost everyone I started with has graduated or will be doing so soon. That’s not a failure (quitting would have been a failure, and it was a pretty close thing sometimes) but looking at that post still makes me feel sad. However, there is a difference between goals and plans, which is that plans can be adapted and discarded as needed. I can lay out my priorities for the year, safe in the knowledge that I can throw them out or completely rewrite them if that is what I need to do.   Continue reading

Enthusing about the Ninja Book Box

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Today, I am very excited. I’m coming to you as part of the Ninja Book Box blog tour, and I have been given free reign just to talk about why I’m looking forward to its release so much. However, before I do, I should probably let its creator Bex explain what the box is:

Ninja Book Box is a new quarterly box shipping worldwide from the UK and featuring books published by independent publishers. We aim to introduce excellent books (both backlist and new releases) particularly those which our team & the publishers we work with feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve, and help you find favourites in genres you wouldn’t necessarily pick up for yourselves. Supporting primarily UK based small businesses, each box will contain a book (often signed by the author & with additional material) plus at least two gift items and lots of other fun extras and will take its theme from the book. We want to support excellence and promote exploration and discovery in all aspects of the box. Subscribers will also gain access to lots of additional community perks. For more information sign up to our newsletter, or check out our website for details of how to get the first box!  

 I love subscription boxes of any and all types. Receiving recommendations of things people think I will like—books, films, TV, snacks, recipes—is one of my favourite pastimes, and when you subscribe to a box, you’re getting advice and input from someone who’s put a lot of thought into the process. I’ve actually been looking for a UK-based book box for a while, but I’m not particularly interested in YA. Since that’s the primary focus of so many things associated with the bookish community, I was coming up blank—until now. One of the things that really appeals to me is that the Ninja Book Box is genreless (or, rather, not tied to any particular genre). I want to read books from all genres, and I’m so excited about that aspect.

Another reason I’m looking forward to my first box is because of who is running the project. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bex, she runs the Ninja Book Swap in February and October every year. She also organised the London Bookshop Crawl back in February, which has been one of my bookish highlights so far this year (even though I never got round to publishing my recap of the event). Because it is Bex organising this, I know it will be professional, thoughtful, and well-managed. If you have a look at her blog, you can see how widely she reads, so there really will be something for everyone over the months.

Lastly, I am eager to learn more about independent publishers. Honestly, I know very little about publishing, and have never bothered to look in detail at who puts out the books I love. My first introduction to the concept of independent publishers was the visit we made to Persephone Books during the bookshop crawl. I was hugely impressed by the clear passion Persephone has for rediscovering forgotten voices, and by the love that everyone we met seemed to have for their work. I picked up The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes based on a recommendation by Lydia (I think), and it is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I never would have heard of it without that trip to Persephone, which suggests there are many more books for me to discover!

A quick note—the Kickstarter for the project is over (it raised 300% of the original goal, which is pretty impressive), and the first box is sold out. It is still possible to sign up for a mini box, which will contain the book, one bookish gift, and access to any online content. Alternatively, if you still want to get your hands on the first full box, theme “Slightly Surreal”, you can enter the giveaway linked below. (There should be a widget, but try as I might I cannot get it to display–the link will take you to the giveaway). Even if you’ve backed the Kickstarter, you can still enter—if you win, you can either get a second box for someone else, or you can wait and redeem the February box for free.

Continue reading

Bloggiesta (Autumn 2016)

It’s Bloggiesta time! The challenge is running from 15th-18th September, and I have a short to-do list.

-Update my About page
-Finish three half-written posts and schedule them
-Go through old Classics Club memes and write responses to a couple that interest me
-Do one of the mini-challenges

I’m aiming to publish two posts a month from now until the end of the year. That might not sound like very much, but I’m very busy with my PhD and it’s still twice what I’ve been doing recently. Building up a stack of posts during Bloggiesta sounds like a good way to start.

Is anybody else participating?

BBAW Day 1: Introduce Yourself!

I will concede that I’m not being particularly consistent at uploading here. I have three reviews and a post about the London Bookshop Crawl saved in draft form, but they are all in dire need of editing, and at the moment it feels like a choice between reading and blogging in my limited free time—and, let’s be honest, reading is always going to win out in that equation.

Having said that, I am on holiday this week—by which I mean I am holed up in a Sussex cottage with two family members, eight novels, two drafts of my transfer thesis, and lots of coffee. This is exactly what I’ll need, and though I’ll still be working intermittently, I should have a bit of time to devote to Book Bloggers’ Appreciation Week (hosted by The Estella Society). My favourite thing about blog events is always getting to know more people who love reading, so this is perfect timing. Continue reading

Five Favourites: 2015

These are not necessarily books published in 2015 (in fact, I don’t think any of them were published this past year), just ones I read for the first time this year. Pretty much the only thing these books have in common is that they all made me cry. (So did lots of others that didn’t make the cut. I’m a pretty easy cry. These ones were special, though). Continue reading

Classics Club Spin #10

Okay. I’ve “participated” in the Classics Club Spin a couple of times now, by which I mean that I’ve got as far as noting the book that I ought to read as per the number selected. I think maybe once I opened the book. Anyway, I’m trying again. Never say die, right?

Five Books I Can’t Wait To Read
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Phillip K Dick
Foundations – Isaac Asimov
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Frank L Baum
The Last Unicorn – Peter S Beagle

Five Books I Think Will Be Hard
Moby Dick – Herman Mellville
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Five Rereads
The Children of the New Forest – Captain Marryat
The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
A Room With A View – EM Forster
Die Verwandlung – Franz Kafka (first read in German, but I’ve read the English translation)
The War of the Worlds – HG Wells

Five Books Which Have Pretty Editions that I Want an Excuse to Buy
The Time Machine – HG Wells
The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald
Are Women Human? – DL Sayers
Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
Animal Farm – George Orwell

We shall see if I make it this time!