Bout of Books #13… I’m in!


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Yes!  I participated in BoB last time round and I’m excited to do so again for number thirteen! I’ll be working that week so unfortunately won’t be able to participate all day every day like I was last time, but I’m looking forward to at least getting some serious reading done in my down time.  I had so much fun participating in all the various challenges that come up throughout the week so it’ll be great to do that again.  I’ll think of specific things I want to read through that week closer to the time.  I don’t think I’ll attempt anything quite so challenging as Titus Groan again though.  That really knocked me for six last time!


Compounding my feelings of being a terrible blogger, I came back on WordPress a week or so ago and discovered this comment that I must have seen at some point, but completely forgot about.

Hi there, I enjoy reading your blog and would like to nominate you for a Liebster award. You can find the details here: http://spiralspun.com/2015/02/04/liebster-award/
(I completely understand if you don’t want to take part and I will not feel offended in any way if you choose not to) 🙂

From the lovely Kim at Spiral Spun.  Sorry Kim, I know you said you won’t be offended, but I didn’t even mean not to answer your questions!  I’m just super forgetful.  I won’t pass the award on now as I think that moment has long since gone, but the least I can do is answer the questions you set:

  1. What do you do to cheer yourself up? I’d been having a rough time up til last month – I’ve been struggling with anxiety.  At the worst points, the best thing I could do was every time I had a pernicious, negative thought, to try and concentrate on one related positive thought.  It works a little just to get my mind out of a bad space.  Otherwise, listening to upbeat music like Taylor Swift really has a strong positive influence over my mood.
  2. Which book would you like to have written? That’s a hard one.  From the things I’ve read semi-recently, perhaps The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.
  3. Which character from a book would you most like to be? I’ve never identified with a fictional character the way I identified with Ruby Oliver, but I think I might be aging out of that, somewhat.  I’m not sure what adult character I would say.
  4. Name something unusual about yourself. 
  5. What is your favourite thing about blogging? Definitely connecting with other like-minded readers, even thought I’ve been severely rubbish about it recently. But yeah, I love chatting with people on here! I don’t have a whole lot of bookish conversation that runs the gamut of the things I like in “real life” so I do enjoy the variety of conversation you can get in the blogging world.
  6. What did you want to be when you grew up? I went through several phases of both wanting to be a teacher and an author.  I think I’d still want to be a teacher if the job was better, but my parents both put me off (they were both teachers).  I still harbour ambitions of writing something, someday.
  7. Name 3 people you would most like to have dinner with? ohhh, I’m struggling!  I’m always scared to meet famous people in case either a. I don’t like them, or b. they don’t like me!  Probably JK Rowling, Jenny Lawson, and Donna Tartt – I think that would be interesting!
  8. What is your favourite quote? 
    “When the stars threw down their spears 
    And water’d heaven with their tears: 
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” (There are others, this was the first one that popped into my head!)
  9. What would you like to learn to do? I would love to properly learn another language (either more Spanish or German) and I would love to learn to run my own business.
  10. What scares you? What doesn’t scare me?! Nah, seriously – I’m extremely claustrophobic and I’m very, very afraid of wasps.  I also get very specific social anxieties – I’m not socially anxious as a rule but I get anxious about, for example, having to spend a lot of time with more than one new person, even if I’m not really required to speak or do anything more than be pleasant.  I’m working on it though!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _____


As always, thanks to The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who… are Actually the Author 

I’ve read a lot of books recently where the author takes a jaunt into the narrative and decides to become a character.  It’s worked for me to varying degrees, though I must admit it’s not always my favourite trope.  Still, here are some books where the author takes to the page. Also, an admission – I struggled to get to ten of these, and I enlisted the help of my boyfriend.  Somehow the venn diagram of our tastes and moderately poor memories managed to form this list:

  1. East of Eden – Steinbeck inserts himself into the whole novel in the role of narrator, though this is not initially clear.  His actual page time is very limited – but as the story progresses it becomes clear that his role is pivotal in recording the tale of his ancestors and their neighbours.
  2. The New York Trilogy – well, really only City of Glass, though he’s mentioned in the other two books.  If you like somewhat post-modern weirdness, in the vein of Borges or Calvino (though not as good as either IMO) with a noirish twist, then Auster is your man.  The way the role of the author and the protagonist is played with in this first novella is particularly interesting.
  3. Breakfast of Champions – I feel like only Kurt Vonnegut Jr could have an author avatar character in Kilgore Trout and still go on to have his “real” self appear in the book.  In order to apologise to Kilgore Trout.  I loved everything about this book, strangeness and all.
  4. A Tale for the Time Being – let it be known that I didn’t even manage to work out that the character Ruth was the author until after the second of her sections of this  book.  Sometime I am not so smart.  I feel like, if anything, Ruth Ozeki inserts a little too much of her own life into this book, but it’s an interesting examination of the role of the reader, the role of the writer, and the role of character, and how these three things can interact.
  5. The Dark Tower – it’s Stephen King, there’s a van, none of his characters like him… what more can one say?
  6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – or Hunter S. Thompson Makes Really Good Life Decisions.
  7. The Divine Comedy – somewhat obviously.
  8. Eric – but he was having some trouble with the animals.
  9. Labyrinths – several of the stories in here have a Borges author character.  I like Borges a lot, but please don’t ask me what the hell was going on, because I’m damned if I know.
  10. The Princess Bride – of course, Morgenstern himself wouldn’t stoop to insert himself as a character into his book, but the person responsible for bringing his work to light took, I hear, some liberties about inserting a not-altogether-accurate version of himself into the narrative… tsk, tsk!

Can you think of any other explicit author inserts?


I aten’t dead, part 2: still aten’t dead

So, some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been around in nearly three months.  There’s a couple of reasons for this.  I started work at a new job in the office where I’ll eventually begin the last stage of my legal training.  I’ll be working there until mid-June.  I also had a rather bad relapse of my anxiety.  This hasn’t finished – in fact, part of what is keeping me going is coming to accept that this is something I have to actively work to guard against as opposed to keeping saying in my head “la la la la everything will be fine and this will never happen again!!!”

So there’s that.

I also had a bit of a reading slump in February as you’ll see from my list on my Read in 2015 page.  I couldn’t get into any of the stuff I was reading, and I dnf-ed a couple of books that I had really expected to like, or even love.  After reading All the Bright Places I was in a pretty stinking mood.  Between all of that, and Terry Pratchett’s passing, there were about six really bad weeks from mid-February onwards, and I wasn’t in any mood to be blogging.

However, I’m now feeling a lot better and ready to be at least somewhat creative again!

I have draft reviews written for the three Official TBR Challenge books I’ve read, as well as the two Back to the Classics challenge books I’ve read on top of Emma.  I’m also 100 pages away from the end of Madame Bovary and should finish it tonight.  I’m on target with both of those challenges despite not posting! I’ll have those full reviews up over the course of this week and next week.

In terms of the Shelf Love challenge, I’m doing reasonably well.  I’ve only bought 4 paper books, and I’m (just) under my ebook spending challenge too! I’ve read 19/20 paper books (depending on how you count Gormenghast, as I’m not finished Titus Alone yet) and I’m on a good roll of reading through my unread paper books at the moment.  My plan is to only read paper books until I go on holiday on 15 June (to Berlin!).  I’ve also split this challenge down a bit, and have divided my paper books down in to those which belong to series, and those which don’t.  I’m reading through the non-series ones first, and it’s working really well.  I’ve been picking out five books at a time, and not picking the next five until I’ve either finished those or decided I can’t finish them.

So that’s where I’m at!  I’m going to go through my newsfeed now and also queue a couple of posts.  I’m hoping to be all caught up by the end of next week.  If anyone’s still reading this, thanks for sticking around.  I’m looking forward to book blogging hopefully from here on out!