I meant to read Nancy Mitford’s Christmas Pudding back in December but I never got round to it. I ended up with far too many things to on my festive TBR and something had to suffer. Unfortunately, that was Nancy Mitford. Thankfully this month’s book club gave me the chance to make up for this when her novel The Pursuit of Love was chosen. It wasn’t my first choice but I was more than happy with the selection. In fact, it was probably the best bunch of novels so far. I’ve also learnt my lesson from previous months and not left the reading until the last minute. Of course, the chances are Ill have forgotten a lot of it by tomorrow’s meeting but it’s better than rushing the last third. This is what happens when people give me a reading deadline. I just lose all motivation to get it done.
One of the positive side effects of taking part in my friend’s virtual book club is that I find out about loads of great books. Of course, most of the time we don’t end up reading the ones that I’m really interested in, so I have take it upon myself to read them. This book was my pick or February’s Valentine theme and it was one that I knew I had to buy for myself. It just sounded like such a different take on a love story. Although, I did have some fears about it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel about super heroes that I’ve enjoyed. The superhero genre is such a visual one that I think it’s really hard to translate that in words. Could you imagine trying to write a novelisation of some of the most popular graphic novels? It’d be so difficult. As this book didn’t sound quite as bothered about the superhero element, I figured that it might be a bit safer.
I’m a fan of Shakespeare. I think he’s way more accessible than people give him credit for. I can also understand why so many people don’t get along with him. For me, it all comes down to how you first experience him. For most of us, we’ll come across our first Shakespeare play at school. If you go through this with the right teacher then he you’ll be able to embrace the Bard fully. If you don’t have the right teacher then you’ll just think he’s old and boring. Thankfully, the first play that I studied was Macbeth and it ended up being a lot of fun. Then I got stuck into Othello, Hamlet and King Lear. By the time I was 16, I was already pretty hooked on old Willy. Although, I’ve never been a big fan of a couple of his most popular plays. Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Nights Dream tend to be ones that most people are willing to watch. I guess they’re more like traditional romantic comedies, so they might be easier for modern audiences to get behind. Really, I don’t know why people love these plays so much. For me, they’re two of his most tedious plays. And, yes, I have studied the histories. Certainly in the case of Romeo and Juliet. I just think it’s stupid.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which means that lists of the most romantic reads are popping up all over the internet. Now, I have a huge problem with these lists. Mostly because of the books that continually appear on them. I’ll be honest, I’m not a massive fan of the romance genre anyway. It’s just not my thing. There’s nothing wrong with it but I get bored of the waiting. I also know that romance novels aren’t as terrible as certain people try to make out. There is a pretentiousness that often comes out when talking about romance that mostly occurs because, historically, it has been a genre written for women. I could go deeper into the problematic history of the genre and the marginalisation of certain writers/subjects but I think that’s best saved for a better writer. Instead, I want to focus on problematic books that appear on lists of Valentine’s Day reads. Let’s be honest, many of the supposedly most romantic books ever written feature relationships that we shouldn’t be celebrating. Everywhere I go, I see young bookish people romanticising toxic and awful relationships and I can stay silent no longer. Here are just a view literary loves that we really need to accept aren’t #goals.
I haven’t been a massive fan of romantic comedies since I was a stupid tween but I can definitely see the appeal this year. There is so much awful stuff going on in the world that escaping into a rom-com seems like the perfect thing to do. There is a familiarity about these films that is pretty comforting. You know where you’re going to end up before you’ve even started, so you can just sit down and let it all wash over you. Considering the rest of the world is in utter turmoil, there’s a lot to be said to knowing what to expect. This is my only explanation for sitting down to watch the new Netflix original romantic comedy despite the fact that I knew I wasn’t really going to enjoy it.
I’ve wanted to watch this film for ages now. I’d heard it was good. It sounded good. I know that I was going to love it. So, why did it take so long? My poor attention span. I’ve been watching films at home since March because of the pandemic which means I’m generally doing multiple things when I’m watching films. I might be writing another blog pot, tempted by my phone, or editing photos. It depends how much I have to do that day. It’s not that I mean to let my mind wander but it happens. I’m not like it in a cinema. Don’t go thinking that I’m one of those people who gets their phone out every few minutes. I concentrate in a cinema. Not at home. It’s difficult to find a two hour slot when I’m not also trying to do something else. So, a subtitled film isn’t exactly a good mix. So, when I found a window on Sunday, I knew what I had to do.
Talk about “exciting times”. There was a huge question mark over whether or not I’d get this book finished in time to write my review today. I had a bit of chunk left on Monday night but I had an early blood test the next day. This meant minimum late-night reading. The plan was to finish it on my lunch break on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that never happened. A big issue with working from home is the proximity of my bed to my workstation. I tend to eat lunch as I work and have a break later in the afternoon. This means I can spend the whole time doing nothing. Yesterday, I set my alarm for an hour and had a nap. It was pathetic. I’m not going to be fit for anything once I’m no loner shielding. Still, it got me through the rest of the day. It did mean that I had to quickly get through the final 60 pages and write this review all in the same night. As you can guess, I managed it and with a pretty good chunk of time to spare. It’s all down to the power nap.
I have owned a copy of this book for a really long time but never got around to reading it. A few weeks ago, my friend convinced me to join her virtual book club. I had initially declined because I didn’t want to add anything else to my schedule. I already struggle to read and watch enough to write all of my posts, so adding the additional pressure of a book club to the mix seemed silly. But they pick a short read at the start of the month and discuss it at the end. I figured that even I could handle that. So a few weeks ago the choices for books came out. This one was on it and I selfishly picked. Well, it meant I wouldn’t have to buy a new book. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one. The fact that it was a short read meant that I put it off for ages but I still got it done in time. And it feels great to have finished a book I’ve had on my shelf for so many years. Has it inspired me to read the rest? Not quite. Maybe if all of them were that small I would.
The fourth book in Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls series was published 4 years after Girls Out Late. I’m assuming this is the reason that I never knew it existed. After all, it was only 2002 so I would have been 14. Surely that would have been the perfect age to be picking up this book. I would finally have been the same age as Ellie and her friends. But, for whatever reason, I have only just finished reading this book for the first time. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was definitely hoping for something more inspiring than the previous novel. But, as we found on Monday, that wouldn’t take an awful lot.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my bookish chums! I hope your day is filled with love or books or whatever makes you happy. What does my day have in store? This afternoon I’m leaving work early to get a chest x-ray. No matter what they tell me, I’m sure it’s to find out, once and for all, whether or not I do have a heart. You see, from my general demeanour and attitude, you’d probably think I’m a pretty cynical person. I guess, to some extent, that I am. However, having grown up surrounded by books containing some of the most hyperbolic love stories ever told, it’s difficult not to have something of a romantic side. Although, I do worry about what books have done to our idea of romance. So often I see bookish people falling under the spell of utterly abhorrent characters. Novels are dangerous, man. You take one quote out of context and suddenly Severus Snapeisn’t a creepy stalker. You focus on one line of a book and Mr Rochester isn’t just the worst. You repeat a few quotations over and over and Heathcliffe and Cathy had a perfect love. You get the idea. Words are dangerous when you remove them from the bigger picture. Is that going to stop me listing my all-time favourite quotations about love? No. I need a post and it’s bloody relevant.