20 Books of Summer Challenge: Wrap-up

Well, as of yesterday, my summer 2018 reading challenge is officially over! I managed to read the 20 books I was aiming for (just!), so you can read on to see some fun-sized thoughts on the last few books I read, as well as a full list of the books I read over the whole summer,.and which were my favourite. It’s definitely been a good summer for reading!

The Book of Dog by Lark Benobi (Netgalley ARC)

Set in America’s near-future, this novel sees the country run by a President who is racist, misogynistic, fat, orange, and has a silly haircut… yup, it’s easy to see who this novel is intended to satirize! As far as I’m concerned, so far so good. However, things soon get weird… A plague sweeps the whole country, turning people into animals, until a diverse group of women bands together, hoping to replace the tyrannical president with someone who can help resolve this crisis. I’m aware that the novel is intended to be humorous, and I’m usually a huge plan of political satire, but I’m afraid it was just a little too…odd… for me. I love the idea of women being the downfall of a certain politician, but I just wish the author had found a more subtle, and actually humorous, way of including this element. Basically, this book is so strange that I spent the majority of the time trying to determine what was actually occurring. 

Rating: 🌟 ( 1 / 5 )

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

All of my UK readers will be shocked to hear that, somehow, I made it through my GCSE in English Literature without ever having read this book (I did, however, have the ending spoiled for me years ago, thanks to students venting on Twitter!). Given it’s one of those classics that all book lovers seem to have read, I decided it was about time I gave it a go. It’s a simple story of the bond between two friends- George and Lenny- with Steinbeck’s beautiful prose being the book’s biggest draw. I can’t say that this novel is particularly ground-breaking, yet said writing ensures its ending is still tragic, even speaking as someone who knew about its sad conclusion. It’s little more or less than a well-written tale about what happens when friendship is pushed to the brink.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 4 / 5 )

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The Exene Chronicles by Camille A Collins (Netgalley ARC)

I requested this book because it combines two of my favourite genres: thrillers and YA. It focusses on 14-year-old Lia, in the aftermath of her best friend, Ryan, being reported missing. The story features multiple timelines, dealing with both Lia’s current reaction to her friend’s predicament, and the previous events that led to Ryan’s disappearance. The problem is, the book’s resolution, as well as the reason behind Ryan’s disappearance is revealed to be a little… flat. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but this is essentially a tale of teenage rebellion, made slightly more interesting by its vintage, 1970s setting, and the fact it explores issues relating to race, as Lia and her family are the only black people in her neighbourhood. If it wasn’t focussed on Ryan’s melodramatic disappearance, this novel could have been an interesting exploration of historical attitudes to race in America, and of growing up as a black teen. Instead, it’s a strange mix of political statements and a mediocre thriller, inexplicably named after the girls’ favourite singer.
Rating: 🌟🌟 ( 2 / 5 )

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 

This was, of course, a reread for me. Countless others have already tried to explain the wonders of the Harry Potter series – my favourite books of all time- so I’m just going to leave you with this: every time I pick up this book, I feel the same amazement that I felt when, aged just 7, I encountered the amazing world Rowling has created for the very first time. Even as an adult, this book really is magical.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 5 / 5 )

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is just one of those books that should be reread once a year, to restore one’s faith in humanity. No matter how many times I read it, I can’t fail to be moved by its characters’ determination to do the right thing, as they try to support a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1930s America. Sadly, this is a book that almost seems to become more relevant as time passes, as the issue of justice being equally administered to all is still a controversial one in modern America. 
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 5 / 5 )

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The Great Gatsby

In the past, I’ve reread this book for one of two reasons: it’s Autumn, or I’m going to New York… Well, both are applicable to this month! So, it seemed about time to revisit my favourite tale of cocktails, fall, scandal and NYC, and I can confirm it was as scandalous, and ultimately tragic, as ever. I love this book, and fall more in love with Fitzgerald’s beautiful description with every reread. It was the perfect end to my reading challenge too, given it’s set during the transition from summer to autumn.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 5 / 5 )

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Favourite book of the summer: And The Mountains Echoed

Excluding some of my rereads, this was one of the books I rated highest this summer. It’s a gripping tale of love, loss and family bonds, set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s continuing political turmoil. You can read more of my thoughts on this book in this post, but I highly recommend this beautiful book (or, for the record, anything by Hosseini!). 

Least favourite book of the summer: The Book of Dog

I mean… see above. No other explanation needed, I feel.

List of books read over summer:

1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood- 🌟🌟🌟🌟

2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt- 🌟🌟🌟

3. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini- 🌟🌟🌟🌟

4. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer – 🌟🌟

5. Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? by Emily Clarkson (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟

6. Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane (Netgalley ARC)- 🌟🌟🌟

7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

8. Murder Never Misses by Faith Martin (Netgalley ARC)- 🌟🌟🌟

9. Brave Enough by Kati Gardner (Netgalley ARC)- 🌟🌟

10. Beneath the Surface by John Hargrove (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

11. Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood- 🌟🌟🌟🌟

12. The Same Blood by M. Azmitia (Netgalley ARC)- 🌟🌟

13. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

14. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

15. The Book of Dog by Lark Benobi (Netgalley ARC)- 🌟

16. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck- 🌟🌟🌟🌟

17. The Exene Chronicles by Camille A. Collins (Netgalley ARC)- 🌟🌟

18. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

19. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (reread)- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

20. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

So, that concludes this summer’s reading challenge! 

Did you do a reading challenge this summer? How did it go? 

Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Em x


20 Books of Summer: Update #3

As promised, I’ve been trying to give you guys regular updates on my attempt to read 20 books over the course of this summer… However, I’ve been a bit busy and have let myself fall behind with my updates. I’ve actually read more books since I began drafting this post, but I thought including any more would make the post over-long (I now only have a couple of books left to read!). Anyway, this post is basically some fun-sized reviews of books I’ve read over the course of this summer… Enjoy!

Beneath the Surface by John Hargrove

This was a reread for me, after I decided I was in the mood for some non-fiction. Written by a former killer whale trainer, this book is an exposΓ© on the SeaWorld corporation, and their mistreatment of the animals they train, which also provides an interesting insight into animal psychology and behaviour. Its controversial subject matter means this book might not appeal to everyone, but if you’re interested in animal rights, or even just want to learn more about the negative affects of keeping animals in captivity, then I highly recommend giving it a read. As you may have guessed, I’m not a SeaWorld fan, and this book made me despair at the fact it’s 2018, and orcas are STILL being kept in tanks.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 5 / 5 )

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Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood

Having previous read Wood’s Walking the Nile, I decided it was about time I read Walking The Himalayas. I’d previously seen the TV programme the book is based on (it chronicles Wood’s time spent travelling in the Himalayan foothills, and his journey was also filmed), so I already knew a little about his journey. However, I loved the behind the scenes details this book gives, detailing some amazing sights that didn’t quite make it into the television show. As ever, I found the book to be much more detailed and immersive than the TV show… Armchair travel at its finest! By the end, you’ll just be happy people like Wood are here to take on these gruelling adventures for us, so we can all read about them from the comfort of our own home.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 4 / 5 )

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The Same Blood by M. Azmitia 

This book focusses on Elena, a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of her twin sister’s suicide. Judging by my description, you’d be forgiven for thinking this sounds like a relatively simple plot. However, I’m afraid that Azmitia has tried to include far too much for the book’s short length. Whilst I’m all for diversity and #ownvoices novels, I can’t help but feel that Azmitia has tried to address far too many issues in one book: Elena is trying to come to terms with her Puerto Rican heritage, address her mental health issues, deal with her family’s problems and overcome a temptation towards some seriously unhealthy habits and self-destructive behaviour, all in less than 200 pages. As a cynic, I can’t help but think that Azmitia has included so many different, diverse issues in an attempt to sell her novel to teenage audiences, rather than raise awareness of said issues, since they are skirted over, and rarely discussed in detail, but are still likely to resonate with younger readers. Aside from this, I disliked the fact the novel is written in the form of poetry, with Azmitia’s poor attempt at verse being yet another attempt to make this novel seem “different” or “unique”. This is a decidedly average piece of YA, which attempts to address several issues, but actually ends up skirting over them in little detail – Azmitia should have chosen one theme to address, rather than cynically wracking up the diversity points in order to appeal to young readers.
Rating 🌟🌟 ( 2 / 5 )

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Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

I first read this book a couple of years ago, but recently decided to reread it, as part of my non-fiction binge. In it, Kerman- a thirty-something, middle-class, college educated woman- tells of the year she spent in an infamous women’s prison, having been found guilty of a drugs offence. In some ways, this memoir is exactly what one would expect- a nice, blonde lady telling us some funny tales of prison life, and how leaving behind one’s cushy, middle-class lifestyle, swapping designer clothes for a prison uniform, can be a bit of a shock to the system. However, Kerman’s book is not as light-hearted as a glance might make one believe- it also exposes some of the darker issues faced by women in the US justice system, from sexual abuse perpetrated by prison officers, to overly lengthy sentences, during which prisoners receive virtually no advice on how to cope, and find employment, once they are released into the outside world. Since leaving prison, Kerman has become an a advocate for prison reform, and this novel, which strikes the right balance between being passionately written and still including moments of humour, made me truly sympathetic to her cause.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 5 / 5 )

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Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

This one was yet another reread for me, for no other reason than the fact I tend to pick it up whenever I feel sad. Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past 30 years, you’ve probably heard of this book. It’s a hard story to explain, and so odd that, on the slim chance you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably best going in blind…So, go read the book because it’s a magical adventure… And that’s all I’m going to say about that…Sorry, couldn’t resist!
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 5 / 5 )

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So, now you know some of what I’ve been reading recently! 

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my verdicts? 

Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Em x

The pressures of bloggingΒ 

Today, I want to talk about something that often goes unacknowledged in the book blogging community: the idea that sometimes, no matter how much we love it, blogging can begin to feel like a bit of a chore.

Personally, I’ve found that my relationship with blogging differs over time. There are days where I’m super excited to blog, usually because I’ve had a great idea for a new post, and there are days where I really struggle to motivate myself, usually because I don’t have any new ideas.  

Sometimes, book blogging can feel like a series of deadlines too, as we worry about everything from making sure our review of an ARC is ready in time for its release date, to simply ensuring we post a certain number of times a week, or on certain days of the week, as our followers may have come to expect. 

Yet, despite the pressure and frustration that is sometimes involved, I’m still here, and I view all the time and work I put into my blog as time-well spent. This is because, over the years, I’ve learned some strategies that keep me sane, even when I feel stressed, or like blogging is the last thing I want to do. Said strategies ensure that now, even after the occasional bit of stress, I still love blogging just as much as the day I published my first ever post.

I’ve decided to share these tips, so read on to find out how you can ensure blogging remains fun (at the end of the day, blogging is a hobby, so make sure you actually enjoy it!):

1. Don’t aim to post on specific days

One thing I really regret, is the time I decided to promise my followers that I’d post on certain days of the week. I found that, whilst studying for my A-levels, this just wasn’t feasible for me, as I couldn’t always predict when my workload would lay off enough for me to have some free time. Until recently, I’d feel stressed if I didn’t have a post ready in time for a certain day, or feel like I had to wait to publish a post in order to stick within my schedule. However, I’ve recently decided to ditch the schedule, and now just post whenever I have a piece ready. I find this much less stressful, and not having a schedule hasn’t decreased the amount of interaction my posts receive, as I still use tags, and maintain my social media presence on Twitter and Instagram, even when I haven’t posted on my blog in a little while. If your followers don’t expect posts on a certain day, they might even check your blog more often, waiting for updates! So, ditch the schedule, allow yourself to post when you actually want to write something, and don’t stress about having to post on certain days. 

2. Write down any new ideas as soon as you have them

As I mentioned above, I find that there are times when I have several ideas for potential blog posts, and there are times when I just can’t decide what to write. To counteract this, I have an old notebook where I jot down any ideas I have as soon as they come to me. That way, if I feel like I haven’t posted for a while and am struggling to come up with new ideas, I simply use one that I’ve already outlined. This keeps my blog from looking bare, and means I never find myself in the situation of posting something of a poor quality, just so I can say I’ve posted something. You could even write ideas for posts up and save them in your drafts, so you know that you’ll have a post lined up for the next time you’re struggling to come up with new ideas.

3. Don’t feel pressured to post X times a week

As I said above, you shouldn’t pressure yourself to post on certain days, but I further believe that you shouldn’t pressure yourself to post a certain number of times a week. At the end of the day, we all have those weeks when we’re too busy to sit down and write a post, or when we don’t have any new ideas for posts. If you haven’t given yourself a goal of posting a certain number of times, you won’t feel like you have to publish something that’s rushed or poor quality, just for the sake of meeting said goal.

4. If blogging is becoming stressful… Take a break!

This point seems particularly appropriate, given I’m writing this post at a time when I haven’t posted for a little while. The reason for this is that my exam results have just been released (I GOT INTO MY FIRST CHOICE UNIVERSITY!πŸŽ‰) , and for days before I received them, I was so anxious that I could barely concentrate on anything. When I tried to sit down and blog I grew frustrated, because I felt like I had no ideas, and even when I did have them, my inability to concentrate meant I struggled to express them well. After a break, however, I’ve been able to pick up my blogging where I left off, without feeling as though writing is adding to my stress. So, if blogging is becoming stressful for you, I suggest you do the same. You don’t have to stop writing indefinitely- a break of a week or two should be more than enough to give you a break, so that blogging no longer feels like a “chore” when you return- and I promise that you won’t lose all of your followers while you’re gone. WordPress will always be here when you want to come back, and someone who’s followed you for months or years is unlikely to abandon you when you havent posted for a week. Sometimes, returning to writing after a short break can remind us of why we loved it in the first place.

So, that concludes my top tips for making sure blogging is a fun, stress-free experience. 
Do you agree with my tips? Are there any others you would’ve included? 

Feel free to let me know in the comments! 

Em x

20 Books of Summer: Update #2

As promised, I’m giving you an update on my summer reading challenge. So far, I’ve read 9 of the 20 books I’m hoping to read. I’m not sure I’ll manage to read 20 full books in total, as 11 books in August is quite a high target for me, but August is also going to be less busy than June and July, so we’ll see! I’m quite pleased that I’ve managed to read 4 more books since this post, but I must admit that my TBR for the challenge has pretty much been forgotten… Whoops! 

Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane 

This book had one of the most interesting premises I’ve encountered lately- it opens with an unnamed woman murdering her husband and children, before introducing four main characters, who all have motivation for harming their families. The actual killer isn’t revealed until the end of the book, by which time we’ve got to know our protagonists well. On paper, this is a brilliant idea, and a thrilling start to a novel. In practice, the problem is that the novel’s opening is so intense that everything that comes after it just feels a little… flat. The final twist makes things a little more interesting, but in the pages between the shocking opening and the resolution, you’re really just left questioning whether any of the women’s problems could really lead them to such a heinous act.

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Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (3/5)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

As my friend bought me a new copy for Christmas, I decided it was time to reread this book. I hadn’t reread it before, as I was concerned that it wouldn’t be as good the second time around. I thought that knowing the ending would lessen its emotional punch… Alas, I was wrong! I don’t want to say too much, for fear of spoiling the ending, but I actually found that the book is even more tragic when one knows what’s coming. It’s a beautiful tale of redemption, and the lengths one will go to for family, set in Afghanistan, during one of the most devastating refugee crises of the last few decades.
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Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/5)

Murder Never Misses by Faith Martin

Somehow, I managed to request this one on Net Galley without realising that it’s part of a series… Whoops! Luckily, I don’t think not having read the other books in the series really mattered all that much, apart from the fact it might have meant some of the characters were more familiar. The book focuses on DI Hillary Greene, a policewoman working on reviewing old cases. She’s being stalked, and is convinced her stalker is the same person who is responsible for the unsolved disappearance of three young women. Martin takes the unusual step of letting her reader know who the killer is from the start, and the passages told from their perspective are truly chilling. The problem is, I struggled to warm to Hillary, and found her quite a cold character. By the end of the novel, I found myself not particularly caring whether or not she solved the case. Plus, the book is too predictable to be anything other than an average thriller.
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Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (3/5)

Brave Enough by Kati Gardner

Brave Enough tells the story of Cason, an extremely talented ballet dancer who is struck down by cancer. It addresses both how she deals with the way her cancer impacts on her career as a dancer, and her relationship with Davis, who she begins dating shortly after her diagnosis. Before I discuss this book I want to make one thing clear: my rating of this book is for the book alone, and doesn’t reflect my opinion on its author at all. In fact, I have a huge amount of respect for Kati Gardner, and I love the fact that, as a survivor of childhood cancer, she has written a book intended to offer representation to others who have suffered. However, just because a book was written with good intentions, doesn’t make it a good book. Unfortunately, Gardner’s book meets many YA stereotypes: strange names, clunky writing, predictable clichΓ©s and a healthy serving of emotional manipulation, to name a few. This book could have been inspirational, but it’s actually little more than a poorly written attempt to manipulate readers’ emotions, and sums up exactly why we are in need of more quality, and less stereotypical, YA.

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Rating: 🌟🌟 (2/5)

How is your own summer reading going? Have you read any of these books? 

Let me know in the comments!

Em x

I got a bookish tattoo…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by tattoos. I just love the idea of carrying what you love around with you forever, in the form of a wearable piece of art. With that in mind, I finally got inked last Monday.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I’m aware that this has often been said by people my age, but the books really did impact on me strongly when I was growing up- they’re the first books I can clearly remember reading to myself, aged 7, and I truly believe it was these books that encouraged me to read more, and that they helped me fall in love with reading. So, when it came to getting my first tattoo, I knew I just had to have a Potter reference. 

My tattoo πŸ’œ

I’ve actually had the tattoo I ended up getting planned for the past four years. It’s on my ribcage, and reads “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic”, in Albus Dumbledore’s handwriting, since he says the quote in the books. 
I’ve always wanted this quote tattooed on me for several reasons, and not just the fact it comes from Harry Potter (although this was an obvious bonus!). Obviously, it appeals to my passion for reading, and serves as a wonderful reminder of the happiness I felt when I first discovered the world of Harry Potter, which has become a lifelong obsession. However, on a more personal level, I think it’s incredibly appropriate for someone about to start the lengthy process of training to become a Speech and Language Therapist- I’m hoping that, when things get stressful, this tattoo will remind me of why I started this journey in the first place. 

In terms of my choice of lettering, I wanted something a little “different”. Whilst it’s arguably one of the less famous quotes from the series, I am aware that a few people already have it tattooed, so I wanted to make sure mine was presented in a unique way. This led me to seek out quite an unusual font and, in the end, I decided to go with Dumbledore’s handwriting, as depicted in my copy of the books, because A. it’s beautiful, and B. it seemed very appropriate, given he’s the one who says the quote. My (very talented) artist did an incredible job of piecing together individual letters from Dumbledore’s writing, in order to make it look as though he wrote the quote. 

My tattoo next to Dumbledore’s writing, so you can really see the amazing job my artist did!

Overall, I adore my tattoo. I’m so happy that I finally got the courage to actually get tattooed, and it’s definitely an experience I’d be willing to repeat. I’m very happy that today was the day I first noticed my tattoo was healed enough to photograph too, because it’s JK Rowling and Harry Potter’s birthday… Talk about fate!

Do you have any literary or Harry Potter themed tattoos?

Let me know in the comments! 

Em x

(PS- two posts in two days, I feel super organised!)

Books I associate with placesΒ 

Writing my previous post, which explains why I like to reread books, reminded me that I tend to associate certain memories and places with certain books. As I love travel almost as much as I love books, I thought it might be fun to write a post discussing some of these links. I’m also hoping that this post might encourage others to reread more old favourites, by reminding them of the wonderful nostalgia a good book can induce. Read on to discover some of my favourite bookish memories….

1. The Great Gatsby and New York

In December 2016, I was lucky enough to tick New York- somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit- off my travel bucketlist. Previously, I’d only ever experienced the glamour of the city through the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, as he describes Gatsby’s life in the city, and the surrounding area, during the roaring twenties, meaning I always associated The Great Gatsby with New York. I love the book, and since it gave me such high expectations about the city, I decided to reread it during my trip there. The book was, as ever, wonderful, and I’m happy to report that the city didn’t disappoint either! I now associate Fitzgerald’s classic with New York because of happy memories of reading it during my trip, rather than simply because Fitzgerald describes the city so vividly.

Visiting NYC

2. The Harry Potter series and Scotland

For some reason, whenever I picture Hogwarts, I like to think of it as located in a remote, extremely Northern part of Scotland, tucked away from the outside world. I think it’s because, having visited this part of the world, I know how “wild” it seems, and I always imagine Hogwarts as being set against a backdrop of mountains and overgrown forests, miles away from anyone or anything. I’d like to think that J.K. Rowling wouldn’t disagree with this assessment, having read her descriptions of Hogwarts’ grounds, especially the Forbidden Forest, and the remote scenery the Hogwarts Express passes on the way to school. In the film adaptations, Glenfinnan in Scotland was used as the backdrop for scenes of the train, and I was lucky enough to visit last summer- an amazing experience which only confirmed my conviction that Hogwarts can be found somewhere in Scotland!

A photo I took during my visit to Glenfinnan, which definitely reminds me of the Hogwarts Express

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns and my Gran’s house

I read Khaled Hosseini’s beautiful novel last summer, and finished it whilst staying at my Gran’s house. I will forever associate it with  being snuggled up in my Grandparents’ spare room, unable to put the book down until I finished it at 1AM, trying to cry quietly in case I woke my Grandparents. Later, when I told my Gran about the book, she decided she wanted to read it too, having previously loved The Kite Runner. She read the book in just two days, and absolutely adored it, and I now associate the book with both her and her house. 

4. Stardust and Spain

Back in 2012, we went on a family holiday to Majorca. At the time, I was in full “bratty teen” mode, and thus decided I was bored a few minutes into our boat trip around the island. To silence my moaning, my Mum lent me her iPod, suggesting I listen to an audio book (even as a surly teeanger, I still loved books). The only one she had was Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Having seen the movie, I decided to give the book a read… And just like that, I was hooked! I listened to the full book in just a couple of days, and loved the vivid world Gaiman creates. Now, whenever I hear mention of the book, I’m reminded of listening to it on the deck of a boat, with the cold world Gaiman describes contrasting drastically with the beautiful Mediterranean coast.

5. Origin and my couch 

Guys, we’ve all been here… It was Bonfire Night, there was lots of red wine… And none of my chores got done the next day. Instead, I lay on my couch, wearing pyjamas and several blankets, and resorted to reading because the sound of the TV hurt my head. The next thing I knew, I’d read all of Dan Brown’s Origin. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t great- I guessed the ending less than 50 pages in to the book, even with a sore head- and a glance at its cover is enough to bring back memories of a rather sore Sunday… This is definitely the least sentimental memory from this post!

So, do you have a book that you associate with a certain time or place? Let me know in the comments!

Em x

To reread or not to reread?

It’s a big debate in the book blogging community: should we reread our old books, or focus on getting through some of the new books on our TBR? Should we ever reread any book, when we know it’s often impossible to recreate the magic we felt reading it the first time around? Should we waste time reading an old book, when this might stop us from discovering a fab new book, which we could have read instead?
Well, despite the many reasons one might not want to reread, I’m going to argue that rereading can be fun, for several reasons. 

Read on to hear six reasons why you should reread:

1. You spot things you missed the first time around

When people who don’t like to reread books tell me why this is, I’ve found that they often say that they don’t understand wanting to reread a mystery or thriller, as they feel they’re not as enjoyable when you already know the ending. I always respond by telling them that, for me, knowing the ending of a thriller can actually make reading it even more fun! Personally, when I didn’t guess the ending of a book, I love rereading it to spot all the little clues I might have missed the first time round. There’s something fun about feeling a sense of comradery with the author, since the characters remain oblivious whilst you know their fates. Of the thrillers I’ve read over the past couple of years, I think I’d most like to reread I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, to try and spot the clues that I surely missed the first time round (it’s fair to say that I failed miserably at guessing the twist…).

2. It’s a good way to relax 

I’ve always thought that one of the huge benefits of reading is that it helps me relax, whether I’m reading before bed, reading in the bath, or sat reading in the sun as I was earlier this afternoon. When I pick up a book, I escape from the world around me, for the whole duration of my reading. With that in mind, I find that I have a tendency to read when I feel down or stressed. However, when I’m in this kind of mood, I don’t want to read a book that is hard to follow, or which tries to make me guess the ending, even if I know that reading will take my mind off things. So, I generally turn to a book I’ve already read. When it comes to an old favourite, I can still get lost in the book, but reading is an easy task, because I don’t have to wonder what happens next all the way. Plus, if I do find myself zoning out for a paragraph or two because I’m tired or stressed, I can always catch up with the plot of a book I know well. Next time you’re feeling down, try picking up an old favourite, and I guarantee you’ll feel much more relaxed, and comforted, than you would have trying to tackle something new. I recently reread Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? by Emily Clarkson, and its humorous tone definitely boosted my mood- as I knew it would.

3. Rereading a book from several years ago is almost like a new book anyway

Speaking as someone who reads a lot, I’ve sometimes found myself talking about a book with someone, and realising that I’ve read it, but so long ago that I hardly remember the details. If I’m in a reading slump, I sometimes end up rereading a book that I can remember enjoying, even though I can’t remember much about the plot. This is a fun way of getting out of my slump by reading something I know I’ll enjoy, without having to face the monotony of rereading a book I only just finished. If you don’t enjoy rereading books, this could be because you’re not leaving enough time inbetween reads, so I’d recommend trying a book you first read several years ago- it’s the perfect balance between discovering a new book, and revisiting an old one.

4. If a book is that good, would you really get sick?!

There are some books that I could just read, read and read again. I love the magic of the Harry Potter series, the emotional punch of The Green Mile,  and the amazing narrative of Gone With the Wind so much that these are all books I have read countless times. Personally, I just can’t understand not wanting MORE  of a book you loved, and reading it again is the only way to achieve this.

5. Rereads can help break reading slumps

Let’s face it…even the most ardent of readers will sometimes find themselves in a bit of a reading slump, unsure which book to pick up next, and unmotivated to even pick one up at all. I’m no stranger to this feeling, and have tried several solutions. In the end, only one has been successful: reading an old favourite. I find that when I reread a book I know I love, it reminds me of why I love reading in the first place, and counter-acts the slump, especially if my slump was caused by a dislike for the book I was reading when it started. I tend to find that, once I’ve read some books that I actually enjoy, I feel more positive about reading, so I tend to read the book I tackle next a little e quicker. This is why I always say that, in a strange way, rereading old books actually helps me reduce my TBR, rather than letting it get longer as it sits ignored, as a reread can motivate me for a nice bit of binge reading!

6. It’s fun to recapture the magic of the first read

For me, this wonderful feeling is best summed up by my relationship with the Harry Potter series: every time I pick up one of the books, I’m transported back to being 7 years old, and discovering the magic of Hogwarts for the very first time. True, the fact I know what’s going to happen next all the way means I don’t have the same urgent desire to read o , but a reread is the closest I can come to recreating the wonder I felt as a small child. Rereading books allows me to unlock some of the happy memories I associate with them, and explains why it’s become a tradition for me to reread the Harry Potter series at least once a year.

So, are you a fellow rereader, or do you think I’m wasting my time? Would you rather discover a new book, or revisit an old favourite?

Feel free to let me know in the comments! 

Em x