This would typically be the time that I post a book review but, unfortunately, I was never going to finish a book for today. I’m so used to reading shorter books at the moment that I completely underestimated the time it would take to read a 300+ page book. When it comes to books, size doesn’t matter. Some of the best books that I’ve read recently have been around 200 pages. I know in certain parts of the bookish community, there is something competitive about book size. To some people, if you’re not reading long books then you aren’t doing it right. Me? I’ll do whatever it takes to get enough books read in a week. With a full-time job and other committments, shorter books are the best way to do that. Of course, this means that I’ve got quite an arsenal of quick reads ready to recommend.Read more
What have you been reading this week?
Tomorrow is my first day back in the office since March. I’m not sure how it’s going to go. I’ve been shielding for so long that the idea of sitting in a small office is a bit weird but I was given the impression that I needed to come back. On the plus side, I’ll not longer be working extra time unpaid. There’s also the issue of getting back to my schedule. I’ve been able to finish writing a bit later because I wasn’t having to get up as early. It’ll take a bit of time to get back into my old routine. I doubt I’ll get much reading done in the first few weeks back. Good job I’ve already reached my 2020 target.Read more
So, thanks to a localised lockdown in my area, I’ve spent August inside again. That’s 5 months of not really going out. I’ve seen family occasionally and seen a couple of friends since March but it’s not much. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to socialise. Thankfully, my isolation has finally seen an increase in the number of books I’ve read. It’s so large that I’m not entirely convinced that I haven’t made a mistake. It feels as though I haven’t read anything this month but, according to Goodreads, I’ve done pretty well. Better than I’d normally do anyway.
Number of books read: 9/10
Number of books on hold: 1
Number of physical books: 5
Number of ebooks: 4/5
Number of audiobooks: 0
During lockdown, I joined my first ever book club. It’s not that I have anything against them but I never do very well when I discuss books with other people. I was the same at university. I was always the shy one in seminars who would never speak out unless picked on. I was better in pairs or small groups but I’m still the kind of person who is much better on paper. It also doesn’t help that I’m so easily swayed by a good argument. Our latest read was Sula by Toni Morrison and I was one of the few people who had enjoyed it. However, the moment the rest of the group started criticising it, all of my beliefs went out of the window. Basically, I lack confidence and conviction. Book groups aren’t great for the combo.Read more
I have been blogging for almost 10 years now and, when I started, I had no intention of getting anything from it. Okay, maybe I had a ridiculous and kind of mad dream that I would be offered a job as a film critic but I knew that would never happen. Mostly because life isn’t like a Netflix Christmas film. Mostly because there are plenty of people who were actively working towards getting a career in journalism who deserved it more. The point is, I wasn’t expecting to get anything from it. The idea of getting free books hadn’t even crossed my mind. So, when I started being approached by writers with the offer of a free copy in exchange for a review, I was flattered. I also enjoyed getting the chance to help out. We all know that the publishing industry is pretty rubbish and extremely biased. I like getting the chance to help self-published writers. This weekend, I was offered the chance to read the new poetry collection by Danielle Holian. I’m always trying to expand my poetry horizons after all.
The good news is that my first week back at work was better than I was expecting. It’s been busy but manageable. The bad news? I haven’t exactly done well with reading this week. I’ve been horribly by other things this week. I’ve not been turning off my computer until about midnight every night and that’s really not a good time to pick up a book. I got some done last night and I’ll try and get some serious reading on today. However, I have a bit of stuff to sort out. Namely applying to a few jobs. Before Covid-19, my boss basically told me that they might not be able to afford to keep me on, so I’m a little worried that, when all of the furloughed staff come back, they might suddenly decide that they can’t keep me on. It’s always good to get ahead with new jobs and, thankfully, people still need marketing people in a pandemic. Now I have real-life experience, it might even be easier than last time.
This weekend I, like so many other Netflix users around the world, sat down and binge-watched the second season of The Umbrella Academy. When the first series came out, I didn’t know much about it. All I knew was that it was based on a comic book series written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. Now, I admit that Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is one of my guilty pleasure albums but I’ve long outgrown MCR. I didn’t expect to enjoy the show but Netflix is clever. It kept playing the trailer over and over until I couldn’t help but watch. I was quickly obsessed. It was a great show and the soundtrack was phenomenal. It felt new and nostalgic at the same time. I couldn’t wait for the follow-up season and, though the narrative wasn’t quite as slick, it was still bloody entertaining. So, when I realised I wouldn’t finish a book in time for today’s review, I knew I had to do something drastic. I bought the Kindle edition of the first volume of the comics. I had to see for myself.
I know we have the same conversation every time some new contemporary author is compared to Agatha Christie but it’s the kind of thing that bears repeating. Modern readers really underestimate her skills. It seems as though all you need to do these days to be compared to her is either mention her/her books or write a small scale crime thriller. By small scale, I mean not one of these overly dark, psychological thrillers but more of a slow burner that revolves around a domestic or small setting. Here’s the thing: Agatha Christie knew what she was doing. She understood people, she understood motivation, and she understood murder. She had the ability to shock and she knew exactly what her readers wanted. Her books are light on detail and character study because they don’t need it. They do what they set out to do. She wasn’t an indulgent writer because she understood how to craft the perfect whodunnit. She didn’t need gimmicks or excess plot to distract her readers. She hid everything in plain sight. Something writers these days tend to struggle with.
Today is the last day of my holiday, which means I’m back at work on Monday. Thanks to our local lockdown, I won’t be going back to the office as originally planned. Part of me is really happy but I was kind of looking forward to being able to get out a bit more. I would always go out for a walk at lunchtime but, since March, I’ve not really been able to leave the house. At least it means I can keep pretending that I’m finally going to make my way through my huge TBR.
Another month is done and, as of late on Thursday evening, I’m back to shielding again. At least it means I’m not being forced back to work but it does mean I’m not going to be getting out of the house for a few more weeks. Time really has become meaningless this year. Do you remember back to January? January always feels so slow but that’s nothing compared to the last few months. We’ve only just got to August and it feels both too soon and too late. I’ve barely seen anyone beyond my family since March. I’ve gone nowhere but the doctors in the last few weeks. Yet, I still haven’t achieved anything that I thought I would at the start of lockdown. I’m managing to just about keep my reading pace but I’m not reading more. I’ve got loads of unfinished puzzles to do and I’ve not been using the time to apply for jobs. All I’ve done it watch the same old shows over and over again. Can we just pretend 2020 doesn’t count towards our individual achievements?