I’ve been a very lucky girl this month and have been presented with free copies of poetry collections. This is my third for August and it just keeps getting better. I’m never very good at remembering to read poetry but I do have a deep-seated love for all things poetic. Admittedly, most of my favourite poets are long dead but that shouldn’t be a bad thing. Poetry has evolved over the last few years but that doesn’t mean we have to turn our backs on tradition. I haven’t had the best relationship with contemporary poetry but there are still poets out there who are doing excited things. All I need to do is find them and the only way that I’m going to do that is by reading more. It won’t always work out well but nothing in life will ever be perfect.
As I said in my review last Monday, I always like doing what I can to help writers promote their work. A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a couple of poets via Instagram offering me the chance to read their latest poetry collections. As someone who is always trying to read more contemporary poetry, I readily agreed. This Sunday, after having a small issue with Amazon, I sat down to read The Daylight Plays Tricks on Us by Julieanne Hoffmann. I hadn’t planned to finish it in one go but that’s exactly what happened.
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.
One of the best thing about being a book blogger is that you often get the chance to read things you would normally have missed. Has Samiksha Tulika Ransom not messaged me on Instagram, then I might not have known this anthology existed. When I checked out the anthology, it sounded like exactly the kind of thing that I should be reading. I know I say it every time I review poetry but I don’t read enough poetry. Even though I studied the Romantic poets at university, I am still a little intimidated by poetry. I have much respect for anyone who writes it. I wouldn’t have confidence in myself. And if I did, I’d definitely never try and deal with such important themes.
I’m never one to turn down a cheap deal on an audiobook. Especially one that I can finish in under 2 hours. It always helps to have a few super short books on hand just in case I need to get a review out in time. I’m not doing awfully well with my current book so I definitely needed something to fill this post. Thankfully, Audible had me covered with their half-price sale. I bought a few bargains and pre-ordered Adam Buxton’s upcoming book. I never really count audiobooks in my book buying ban but I probably should. I never buy them at full price but I guess it should be included in my book haul. But that’s beside the point right now. I listened to this book before I went to bed yesterday. I kind of regretted it because it’s never a good idea to come face-to-face with mortality just before you turn the light out. Still, I’d wanted to read it for a long time and being able to do so while lying back and doing nothing was even better.
On 01/01/2020 I started reading a book. I finished that book on 16/02/2020. Even for me, that’s a bloody long time. Yes, I managed to read a fair few books in between those two dates but it was a struggle. I just couldn’t face picking up a book in January. Thankfully, February has proved slightly better. Not much but slightly. Having finally opened the covers of a physical novel has encouraged me and I think I’ll be able to take a bit of a break with the audiobooks. Not that I have a problem with them, something that my post last week can verify, but I do have a problem with buying them. In order to justify my spending habits, I need to start getting a few more finished. Unfortunately, listening to books isn’t going to get that done. Still, we’re only 47 days into the year and I’ve finally crossed one off the old TBR list. It’s some kind of progress. Not good but something.
Oh, the smugness that I was experiencing last week. What an idiot I was. I was so cocky when I finished two books in one week. So, cocky that I almost didn’t get this one finished in time. I expected to get through this poetry collection in no time but, whenever I had the chance to read it, I just didn’t want to. Maybe it was because I had just finished two really easy to read books? Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t engaging with this one enough? I guess it was about time that I had a bit of a struggle. 2019 has, for the most part, been a really good reading year. I’ve not experienced much of a reading slump so far so it was high time that I had a small one. It also doesn’t help that I’m super tired this week. I feel like I’ve barely slept the last few nights. So, I’m going to be a boring old lady and get to bed early tonight. Wrapped up, herbal tea, and a pair of fuzzy socks. Sounds blissful.
Yesterday was National Poetry Day. I always consider myself a big poetry fan but, if I’m honest, I don’t read a lot of it these days. I have too many novels that need reading. Although I do try. After Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace were all over Bookstagram a few years ago, I decided it was worth giving them a try. After all, everyone I saw was talking about how life-changing they were. I read them. I didn’t get it. Anyone who read my ramble about poetry last year will remember, I got quite angry about them. I don’t get it. It’s not poetry. It’s formating. But, that’s not the point. I want to reconnect with poetry by celebrating some of my favourite poems. I’ll be honest, as a lover of all things Romantic, most of these will probably be pretty obvious but there’s got to a reason we’re still talking about them after all these years, right?
Up until yesterday, I was only reading Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Billy Bryson. Up until the point I stopped kidding myself that I would finish it for today. Given the fact that I’ve fallen asleep reading it every night since I started it, it was never going to happen. But, as we know by now, I’m pretty delusional when it comes to my reading goals. So it took a while for me to admit defeat. Stubbornness can be useful in certain situations but sometimes it can make life difficult. Like forcing me to find a quick read to finish in one night. Normally, that would involve me buying a super small book during my lunch break. But, as I’m still trying (and failing) to stick to my book buying ban, I decided that this time I would go back to one of the books on my shelf that I have already loved but never reviewed. A collection of poems, in fact, that I’ve owned for years and adored. I loved it so much that I’ve gifted it to a few friends and I’m the kind of person that doesn’t normally force my bookish loves on my unsuspecting friends.
Anyone who has read a few of my book related posts may know that I have a rocky history with YA fiction and I’m not entirely convinced by contemporary poetry. So you’d think that I’d definitely want to steer clear of a piece of YA fiction written entirely in verse. But Long Way Down is the kind of book that I couldn’t ignore for long. Loads of people I respect on Bookstagram loved it and I heard loads of praise for it in general. So, when To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before proved too much for me to handle, I decided it was time to give it a try. After all, it’s not a very long read so I knew I could blast through it in a matter of hours. And I am still trying, though not very hard, to read more poetry this year. It feels like a novel written in verse is the ideal way of doing this as I sometimes find it difficult to get into poetry. It’s not exactly a normal method of reading when you’ve got a collection of poems loosely tied together by a similar theme but that are all separate. As this one contained such a tight and concise narrative, I was excited to see how it would work.