Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Reading Resolutions

Halfway through January seems like a strange time to upload a resolutions post but better late than never I suppose! I’ve set these reading resolutions to help widen my reading experience and make it more enjoyable, reading is a joy rather than a chore.

Last year, I set myself a goal of reading 20 books. I ended up reading 25. I was so impressed with myself for reading so many books, especially since I’d started the year in a bit of a reading slump, but then I realised I couldn’t really remember any of the books I’d read. I’d been so focused on hitting that target that I hadn’t taken the time to reflect on the stories and books I was consuming. I was completely focused on a number rather than the experience, which is not what reading is about at all. With that in mind, I want to really appreciate every book I read. If that means taking more time over each one, so be it.

One of my goals for last year was to explore new and unfamiliar genres. In 2016, I started reading non-fiction books and I really enjoyed all of them, I particularly recommend Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. This year I’m going to try and read more biographies and memoirs as well as factual books. What I love about non-fiction books is the way you can dip in and out of them. I tend to keep a fiction book on the go at the same time for long journeys or when I need to switch off, but if I find myself with a spare five minutes, I love picking up a non-fiction book. This year, I’m looking forward to reading Girl Up by Laura Bates and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m always looking for more non-fiction books to add to my list so please leave any recommendations you have!

I really want to diversify my reading list this year both in terms of authors, characters and subject matter. For me, the whole point of reading is to open yourself to other people’s stories and experiences. With that in mind, I’m going to make an extra effort to read books by or about people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community. I’ve heard brilliant things about Swing Time by Zadie Smith and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Again, if you have any recommendations, please let me know!

These are my three main reading goals for 2017, I haven’t set many because I don’t want to turn reading into work. I would also like to read 30 books this year but, if I find myself reading only to reach a target number, I’m going to slow down.

Do you have any reading resolutions for this year? How are they going so far?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

My Favourite Books

It makes sense that my first post on this blog is a list of some of my favourite books. I read so much, it’s impossible to list all of my favourite books so here are five that I’ve read over the years. Some of these are childhood favourites, others are more recent discoveries. I should point out, Harry Potter is not included in this list, because it should go without saying, that is my favourite book series. I've included links to buy all of these books so be sure to have a look at the ones you don't have!

Like so many people, I loved Roald Dahl’s books as a child. The story that really stood out to me was Matilda. When I was younger, I was very quiet and constantly had my nose in a book, which wasn’t necessarily considered ‘cool’. When I first read Matilda, it was like I had finally met a friend who loved books and stories as much as I did. I wasn’t as good at Maths as Matilda was and I definitely didn’t have the power of telekinesis, but she made my younger self feel less weird and alone. Exactly as a good children’s book should. I'm so annoyed at my younger self for losing my copy of this book!

Favourite quote: “So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” 

This book is actually a rather recent discovery for me. It was part of my suggested reading list for my English Literature A level and had been on my personal TBR for a long time. I have a bit of a love, hate relationship with the classics, but Jane Eyre very quickly became one of my favourite books. Jane is seen as very plain by the people around her and yet she behind that exterior she is strong and fierce. Of course, this book isn’t perfect, the treatment of Bertha Mason is troubling, and I do wish the ending had been different but Jane is a wonderful protagonist and the imagery in Bronte’s writing is beautiful.
I loved it so much, I have two copies!

Favourite quote: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” 

I can remember watching the news in October 2012 and hearing that Malala Yousafzai had been shot for campaigning for girl’s education. In my very na├»ve and ignorant head, this was a shocking event that seemed to belong far better in a dystopian story. The reality is, thousands of women and girls around the world are banned from attending school and anyone who tries to speak out against this, is putting their life at risk. Malala’s book is about her childhood and life before the Taliban came to her home town. Her passion for her cause spills from every word. Her courage, determination and refusal to give in is remarkable. Reading this book was so inspiring and Malala’s story has stayed with me ever since.
I highlighted so many passages whilst reading this book. 

Favourite quote: “If one man can destroy everything, why can't one girl change it?” 

This book was one of the first books I considered my favourite. I was six years old when I first read it and having recently reread it, I am still just as in love with the story now as I was back then. I’m just as attached to the physical book as I am the story inside. My friend bought me this beautiful anniversary addition for my sixth birthday, as you can see, it’s been well loved!
How beautiful is this book?!

Favourite quote: Once a King and Queen in Narnia, always a King and Queen in Narnia

The final book on my list is one that I stumbled across accidently after browsing through a bookshop. I’d realised that I had fallen out of love with books and had found myself in the middle of a reading slump from which I seemed unable to escape. This book found me at exactly the right time. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, The Book Thief is set during the Second World War but is told from the perspective of a young girl living in Germany – a point of view we don’t get to see very often. This book reminded me of the power and importance books have. The film is just as beautiful, in fact, I think it’s one of the best book to film adaptations I’ve ever seen.

A much loved copy of The Book Thief
Favourite quote: “I am haunted by humans.”

Let me know what your favourite books are!