Although I enjoy free time in both June and September, I very much consider July and August to be my summer months. And being already 31st of July, this means that summer is almost over. Well, not exactly, that was one big exaggeration, but the 1st of August marks the middle of the summer and it is time to check on what I wanted to do this summer and face it with what I have actually done.
Back in July I wrote a Top Ten list of books that I wanted to read this summer knowing that I wouldn’t read them all, but writing that list helped me sort my reading priorities. You can revisit the post here. Ouf the 10 books, I have read only one: East of Eden of which I wrote a study guide I’m pretty chuffed with. However, since I wrote that list on the 17th and it’s summer, I’ve decided not to give myself a hard time about it. Plans are made to be broken and adapted! In July I read 4 books:
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
- Linda, as in the Linda Murder by Leif G.W. Persson.
- Strange Girls, Ordinary Women by Morgan McCarthy.
- The Fever by Megan Abbott.
These four books pretty much stand for the diversity of stories that I wanted to read this summer: a classic, a Scandinavian crime novel, a story about women’s lives and a contemporary American author. Now I only have to review three of those books!
I also reviewed Top of the Lake, a crime fiction show that breaks away with masculine traditions on the genre thanks to an amazing female police as a main character who investigates the rape and pregnancy of a local 12-year old in her hometown in New Zealand. Could it be more different?
I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Marina Sofia about my passion for crime fiction. Big thank you to her for making one of my dreams come true!
I received some awaited review copies and some other unrequested ones. Because I do not live in the UK, I do not get as many unrequested review copies as other bloggers do, so I am always thankful for the extra-bookish love. These were the books I received this month:
So, now that August is already here, I’m thinking of allowing myself to read what I want, because I feel like it. Since I am to start my PhD next September and I’ll be reading on a tight schedule, I think the best way to wave goodbye to the amazing summer 2014 is by reading as much as I want and whatever I want to.
What have you planned for August 2014? Are you following any Summer 2014 reading plan?
I thought the best way to write a post about the summer was with a country song in mind. The title from this post is taken by the optimistic and sunny – can a song be sunny? – Long Hot Summer by Keith Urban and it never fails to remember me how awesome summers can be.
Things have been a little bit quiet over here because I allowed myself the luxury of spending the last 15 days of June doing whatever it felt right at the time. I am already done with my M.A and all the paperwork for my PhD until August so, basically these are the things that are making this one of the best summers in a while. I guess it has to do with a healthy combination of balancing things to do and knowing that you have a fair amount of free time and the possibility to enjoy yourself. So, there are the things that have happened, have planned to happen or just look like great ideas:
- There are the books that I would love to read this summer although I realize that it is a pretty ambitious list.
- I have started to do some research on crime fiction for my PhD.
- I have taken up running and it feels amazing. The running shoes my parents bought me for my grades do help, though.
- The puppy is teaching me go and fetch instead of the other way round. But don’t we enjoy running in the sun together!!
- I discovered rice and soy ice-cream at a local store and I’m in awe. They taste the same diary ice cream does, but they don’t make me sick.
- I would love to do some creative writing this summer. Let’s see how it goes.
- There are a lot of crime TV shows that I should watch and that I’m slowly getting and watching. Right now I am living in Gant with Detective Hannah Maes and I love her (Code 37). If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I need to watch an immense amount of TV a day to remain sane.
- I discovered this collection of free articles by Routledge via Sarah Ward and I can’t wait to read them all. Be sure to check them before December 2014.
What have you planned for this summer? :)
Things have been pretty quiet on the blogging front of lately and, as you can imagine, because I’ve read your posts and you are going through the same – either as teachers or as students – it’s because school is keeping me super busy. Evening lessons are hard to combine with reading and leisure. But, hard as it is, I’m managing some academic reading that I wanted to share with you.
- Atwood’s is my pleasure reading. The Robber Bride had been on my shelf since November 2011 and I thought it was time to read it.
- Las Filósofas (“The female philosophers”) is course book that recreates history taking into account female thinking minds. It is surprising how many women have influenced history and how little we know about them.
- The Essential Feminist Reader I bought as a complement to the courses on feminist history. It contains texts from the most relevant women in history dealing with female independence, education and feminism.
- Gerda Lerner’s The Creation of Patriarchy is another course book. Lerner has come out as a fascinating revolutionary in women’s history and since I had never heard of her, I thought it’d be a great an idea to work on her works and on her life.
So, this is what I’ve been doing of lately, add a pile of articles to read and that’s where I’ve been: buried into texts which is not so bad an option, is it? Meanwhile, my mind is already set on Christmas! :)
How are you all?
Summer is almost over, but there are still a few weeks left and I desperately need something to keep myself busy or else I will be catatoniac when the new academic year starts! After five years busy as a bee, skipping lunch more than a few times a week and being completely happy if I could get six hours of sleep a day, I have found myself with more free time than apparently I can manage. So, I have decided to keep myself busy by setting some deadlines:
- When Sam from Tiny Library posted about the Redathon many of you are also into, I saw she was about to read A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick saying:
I’ve had this book for a loooong time. It’s a gothic story about a mail order bride and I know I will love it, I just need to actually read it.
Same happens to me! The book has been sitting on my shelf for a year now and I know I have to read it because the gothic and wintery setting will be perfect for these last summer days. So, the lovely Sam and I are doing a read-along and will post our reviews next week.
- The other projet came to my mind last night. I received a review copy of Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives edited by Sarah Weinman. It is a compilation of crime and psychological short stories by women that were forgotten but who laid the foundations for nowadays’ crime fiction. The book has 14 short stories, so I will read one every night, also inspired by all of you who have a special book assigned for your bedtime.
Hello, dear readers!
Spring is finally here! It’s warm and sunny and showers show up every once in a while. And I go from loving it to hating it as easy as it gets! These past weeks I’ve been quite quiet. Everything’s fine, I’ve been studying, reading, writing, doing research and enjoying the first spring sunny afternoons with my friends. I’ve been also reading Anna Karenina and I’ve been doing so for some months now. The prose is excellent and I move from hate to admiration depending on who is the character focused in. I love Anna, I think she’s an incredibly complex character and once I’m done and know her fate, will do as much research as I can. But it’s not an easy reading. It is not the kind fo story one needs after spending 6 hours writing. So, after some Twitter talk last night, I decided to read All That Remains, Kay Scarpetta #3, before I continue reading Anna Karenina. Or, maybe to read both books at the same, as I’ve been doing of lately.
I’ve been also watching lots of movies, one of them Thelma and Louise which inspired me to read more feminist non-fiction. I’m doing as much research as I can and taking advantage of my college library. I read The Bell Jar barely a month ago and I’m already craving feminist works. I just cannot understand how there are women out there who do not read works with strong, empowering female characters. It’s so easy to identify with them and to relate to their problems and joys at a deeper level!
I hope you’re all having a wonderful spring! Has the sunny, warm weather affected your reading? :)
Just lately I’ve been “back” to reading after some weeks studying for my last final and then nervously waiting for my mark. For those weeks, I spent all my concentration studying every single trace of Middle and Renaissance English and by the end of the day al my mind could afford was a few The Simpsons episodes and lying in bed staring at the ceiling seriously. But now that things are going back to normal, I’ve found my reading habits a little different from I remembered them.
Some nights ago, as I closed Body of Evidence i realised I was craving more reading, but was somehow done with Kay Scarpetta, I wanted something different. I navigated through my TBR pile in search for the perfect read, something that would make a huge contrast with a medical examiner researching a writer’s death. And it hit me someone from Penguin had recently sent me a review copy of a collection of love stories by a Russian lady. I searched for the book only to find it too handy and opened it. Next time I came back to this world, I had been reading for half an hour and was already 50 pages into the 195-long book. And it was time to go to bed, I felt done.
Now, those who have been following the blog, may have noticed I’m very much a one-book-at-the-time book. I love immersing myself into a setting and story and considering the characters as my only focus. I think they deserve all my attention. So, could I be reading not only two, but three books at the same time (one of which I gave up)? Not only that, but how could it be that it was what I felt I needed?
Time hasn’t changed this. I’m still reading two books at the same time and when reading time comes, I make sure to make time for both of them. I love going from one long story with which I’m 100% committed to short stories with different settings and characters. Above all, I love that I’m easing to eagerly back into a reading routine.
So, this may be a different routine, but I love it. I’m enjoying every single turn of page and I’ve realised I feel more productive approaching more than one book at the same time. I’m also very happy to welcome change. Change, as most things in life – is neither good or bad – it’s very much what you want to make of it. Me? I’m welcoming this change as a new chapter in my life, a new chapter that may or may not last long, but that will be a little part of me and my life, that is, my reading.
I’m currently reading:
- There Once Lived a Girl who Seduced her Sister’s Husband, and he Hanged Himself (short stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya) .- A collection of short stories exploring all kinds of love.
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.- Atkinson’s first novel not starring Jackson Brodie in 10 years.
As many of you know, I’ve recently started a job as an English teacher and I’ve been slowly easing into the new routine. This, in combination with my last final – which I’ve passed, thank you everyone for your support has affected my reading time although I must admit less than I expected.
I teach in the evenings, so that means my usually tranquil and let’s admit it, sometimes lazy, evenings have been re-scheduled. And now that I come to think about it, for the best. I’m used to working hard from 9 to 5 in school, arrive home and study for the next day’s classes, but this year since I was only one subject away from graduating, that changed. I can sleep the morning if I want or need to, I have whole days for myself, to read, write, clean, watch TV, films or simply think about the great weekend that lays ahead of me. And for some time, it was wonderful. But, that doesn’t make a hard-working overachiever happy for too long. So, I accepted a job as a teacher at a brand-new academy near my house: I walk there every day, enjoy the cold winter days and it helps a lot to reset oneself, especially since I have a tendency towards indoors. However, the most rewarding thing has been the experience with the students. Let’s face it, not everyone likes their teachers and if you do, you’re the teacher’s pet. But somehow, I just happened to get along really well with all my students – in very unexpected ways. My pupils see me as someone willing to help them which is what teachers should be there for, but most importantly, they are happy and comfortable in my lessons. They trust me and know that I’m not there to see if they fail or check what they don’t know – a fault way too common in too many school teachers – but to help them improve, learn and face school life in a different way. And although I love words, they cannot describe how rewarding it is to see their faces when they realise what I’m doing.
Joys of teaching apart, I feel like a need a new reading routine. My evenings are broken into two by the lessons and before I leave the house I try not to be stressed or overworked so I can devote to my students most of my attention. When I arrive home, I just want to tidy my bedroom and put my PJs on.
In conclusion: my reading schedule has been a mess for almost a month now. But I’m happily easing back into a reading routine, trying to fit a book wherever and whenever I feel like reading. And it’s been wonderful!
We’re entering December’s second week and it’s time for some Christmasy readings! I must admit I never did any themed reading in previous years, mainly because it never occurred to me. But, this year I discovered lots of blogs, challenges and more importantly, themed reading.
I asked you on Twitter for a cozy reading and Darby Dashwood suggested Little Women and it felt perfect. I’ll share my personal story with Little Women when I review it. Meanwhile, know that I’m really enjoying it and I find it inspiring: it makes me want to work even harder and enjoy my family. I feel identified with Jo and Meg and I can’t wait to share my favourite quotes with you.
Talking about Louisa May Alcott, Amanda from Simpler Pastimes suggested Alcott’s short stories. She told me her mother used to read them from a Christmas collection, so I did some research and found this beautiful edition: Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury. It really looks like one of the books the characters from Little Women got at Christmas from Marmee. It includes commentaries on every short story about Alcott and how the story is a reflection of her life, struggles and passions.
All this Louisa May Alcott interest has caught me off guard. I didn’t realise how much I miss 19th century and American fiction. I also miss the professors helping us do a deeper reading, stimulating us to some critical thinking, highlight the most memorable quotes etc. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind helping other people do the same which clearly confirms the professional path I’ve chosen is what I really want to do, what makes me happy.
I attend my last lesson on Wednesday, so I will have lots of free time. I’ve already decorated the house, bought presents for everyone and, more importantly, decorated the blog! I told you the Christmas madness would come. I hope you like it too. But, with my free time I plan to watch some themed films: The Princess Bride which I have never ever seen and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Finally, I would like to take some time to thank both bloggers and readers for suggesting theese books. I was a little bit lost about what to read next. It is for reasons like these that I joined and have remained in the blogging community. Thank you :)
Have you any themed plans for the holidays? How and what do you celebrate?
After some weird weeks, I ‘m proud to announce I’ve finally grown accustomed to my new schedule! A mix of college, a reading schedule and lots of library hours have become my weekly routine. Some days it is easier than others, but, as a whole, I must admit I’m super happy about how things have turned out. However, before I reached this point, I struggle to find time to read and write although I had plenty of it. It is for this reason that I’ve decided to share some of the things that worked for me. With this post I do not mean to tell anyone how to live their lives, but there were some posts out there that helped me to organize my time and ease back into a routine. These worked for me and they may, or may not, work for you, but as long as you try, you win because the important thing about change is not the change in itself but the desire to change, for better.
1. Turn your phone off.- While working at the library these past weeks, I saw how teenagers were trying to fit their studying in between their texting breaks rather than the opposite. I have a Blackberry for “professional” reasons: I want to get e-mails from college as soon as possible and I love to have access to my blog and your comments 24/7, but when I’m studying (or reading), I’d rather be focused. No friends, no texts and no e-mails. Only the books, a million pens and me.
2. Your handbag/backpack is your home.- Or it should be. I carry a huge amount of things in my handbag, but at times I’ve found myself relieved when I needed a lipstick retouch and knew I had the lipstick in my handbag, or a sip of water and carried a small bottle with me,or more importantly, lost the train and had a whole hour to spend having a coffee… while reading the book I carried with me! Find what will make you more comfortable or help you and carry it in your handbag. But be sure to don’t overdo it or your back will suffer.
3. What helps you to chill out?.- There are moments through the day when I need a break from everything just to busy my mind with something that makes me happy. In my case, it is music. I carry my iPod with me everywhere so I can listen to a song or two and unplug. It helps your brain to focus on another thing and return to your task fresh and happier.
4.- Turn your phone off, but keep it charged.- As important as it is not to focus too much on your phone, it can also help you in a stressful or hard situation. Texting someone you love about a problem can make you feel better just because you’re sharing your worry/stress; same happens when you receive good news and want to share them with your beloved ones.
5.- Don’t forget yourself.- Sometimes we can get too caught into a working routine and forget about us which will translate into our physical appearance (and that does not help when, at the end of the day, you come back home and the image on the mirror scares you to death). It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, taking care of yourself is essential. I like to have my nails done or go to the hairdresser to get a more polished look. When I’m studying long hours in the library, it helps to know I’m comfortable but also looking good (or, as good as the situation allows me to do).
6. The night is the end of the day.- By the end of the day, try to relax doing some reading, watching TV or simply taking a few deep breaths to help you pause. I usually find myself thinking about the next day at night and it shouldn’t be like that: we should reflect on what we’ve achieved on that day and be done and happy with it. You’ll have time for your next day, next day.
So, these are some little and personal tricks that keep me going even in weeks like these when I call the library my second home. What do you do to keep yourself motivated and working/studying/reading?