Non-Fiction Favourites

3:51 pm

I feel like non-fiction is where I thrive when it comes to reading. The array of things to be learned about in such minute detail that may only seem like something small at first glance is just amazing. Just the other day I picked up a book about the origins of The Great Gatsby and the society that inspired it. Such a small part of our world, but so many words that can be devoted to it. I've put together a selection of non-fiction from my bookshelves, whether ones I've reread many times or ones I'm yet to finish. My favourite thing about non-fiction in the end is the ability they grant you to dip in and out of them, explaining why half of these are only half read but still loved!

Aldous Huxley - The Doors of Perception
Huxley's famous dabbling with mescaline and his notes on his experience.

Simon Garfield - Just My Type
Typography and the history of fonts.

Alain de Botton - The Architecture of Happiness
A study of architecture and how it affects us.

Gretchen Rubin - The Happiness Project
Rubin's journey to find true happiness.

Hugh Aldersey-Williams - Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
Stories about the discoveries of the elements.

David McCandless - Information is Beautiful
Data and information displayed in beautiful ways.

DK's Pick Me Up
Facts about pretty much everything!

What are some of your favourite non-fiction reads?

M x


Book Review: Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You

8:37 pm

Oh my. What a beautiful work of fiction this turned out to be. 

Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You is a short story anthology covering themes of love, sex, loneliness, and generally the things you feel as you go through life, good and bad. Sometimes I really struggle with reading and get into a rut wondering what the fuss is about after reading so many books that failed to touch me in any way. Then I picked this up and felt like I was being thrown around with all these emotions I had scarcely felt before. July's stories of heartbreak really do hurt. 

Her stories can be bizarre and disorienting, but never fail in their beauty. Favourites of mine were 'Making Love in 2003' (childhood trauma and love affairs) and 'The Shared Patio' which is the first story of the collection. 

I would love to know if any of you have read this collection or are fans of Miranda July. To anyone who hasn't read this, I would thoroughly recommend you add this to the top of your TBR as it's such a quick read and affected me more than a piece of literature has in a long time.


M x

P.S. Don't forget to follow me on Goodreads here!


I missed my blog birthday!

9:00 am

On 3rd February 2014, I opened up my little space on the internet, tentatively titled (and still tentatively titled to this very day) Hepburn's Pixie Crop, and wrote my first post. Today is 8th February 2015 and I've missed my blog's first birthday, oh, look how the little one's grown! There are a damn sight more books in this space today, and a lot less money being spent on eyeshadow, but I'm happy with that change and my blog has never felt more 'me' than at this moment. I hope all of you lovely regulars reading will be with here for another year to come, and maybe a few more will join along the way.

M x


'My Reading Habits' Tag

2:45 pm

Browsing my bookmarks (computer, not physical) once again, I've found even more book tags for me to complete, yippee! This time it is The Book Jazz's 'Reading Habits' tag that I found on Youtube, so here we go...

Do you have a certain place at home for reading? Where do you like to read?

I normally cosy up in bed to read, but then it turns into a nap, so I'm thinking I might need a new reading place! If nobody else is home I snuggle up in the armchair in the living room with my dogs with a cup of tea, wallowing in the rare quiet of my house. Wallowing is definitely the right word.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

It depends, most of the time I forget I even own bookmarks then find them in half-read books months later. Persephone Books has a regular newsletter/catalogue thing going on and every time there's a new bookmark, so I usually just use those. They're beautifully designed and have the information on a new book they're publishing from a female writer.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/certain amount of pages?

I am so irritated by books that don't have chapters or parts! How else am I meant to know when to stop?

Do you eat or drink while reading?

I usually have some sort of drink floating around but I will forget about it and if it's tea it will go cold.

Music or TV while reading?

Hell no. I'm not that good at being focused.

One book at a time or several at once?

Usually one fiction with a few non-fiction in the background or whatever I'm supposed to be reading for an essay.

Reading at home or everywhere?

I get a lot more reading done on the train than I ever do at home. My commute to class means I can work through a book in a very small period of time without distractions, like my laptop or dogs. Or sister. Or television. Or food.

Reading aloud or silently in your head?

I only ever read aloud if it's poetry as I find it a lot easier to understand when spoken. Literature, no.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Never. I only look further on in the book if I'm looking for where the chapter ends.

Break the spine or keep it like new?

I find it near-impossible to keep books like new, especially lugging them around in your bag all day. I don't see a point in being precious with books, they're there for enjoyment and look so much better if they've lived a life!

Do you write in your books?

Only sometimes. I have no problem with writing in books, unless it's underlining in pen. Just looks messy. Highlighters, pencil underlining, and side annotations are fine, but there's something about underlining in blue pen that makes me shudder.

Who do you tag?

Everyone reading this now!

M x


Book Review: Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge

2:04 pm

'2001. New York City. Fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow is on the case of billionaire geek CEO Gabriel Ice. Standing in her way is an array of bloggers, hackers, code monkeys and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Not to mention a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave and a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues. Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance? Hey. Who wants to know?'

Pynchon, Pynchon, Pynchon. One day I love you, one day I despise you.

Bleeding Edge was a task. A lot of fun, but a task. I've only read one of Pynchon's books before, The Crying of Lot 49, but the impression I get reading around him and his style is that all of his works are equally as manic, convoluted, full of references (with only half you'll actually understand), and inconclusive. I absolutely love it, but I find they're things you definitely need to be in the mood for. You don't go into Pynchon expecting an easy journey with a clear ending, you go into Pynchon for the experience.

Bleeding Edge tells the story of fraud examiner Maxine and her quest as she follows a thread starting with dodgy financial figures from a computer firm. The quest, naturally, spirals out of control and turns into one of the trippy (with or without the influence of drugs) detective stories the author is so famous for. The book is set in 2001, scattered with references to old websites, 90s alternative music, and hacker-speak, which could be quite complicated at times to people who aren't well-versed in tech terms. There's a lot of talk of the Deep Web, coding, and the 'dot com' boom. I think a lot of it you can cruise over without much understanding and still be able to follow the story, but the era and its relationship with technology does bring something else to the story. The characters are typically Pynchonian, holding various odd qualities that seem to have been picked out of a hat but make for amusing plotlines and solutions to issues brought up. Foot fetishes, Hitler-loving. Extreme sense of smell. You name it, he's written it.

I really enjoyed Bleeding Edge, despite it taking me longer than I wanted to read it, but that's probably what you should expect with Pynchon. An experience. Oh, and there's a Kenan and Kel reference that hit me right out of the blue and made me laugh one of those embarassingly explosive laughs on the train.


M x

P.S. Follow me on Goodreads here!


January 2015 Reads

9:00 am

Hello, February! Last month I read a grand total of 7 books. I'm quite happy with the number, but know I could've read more if it wasn't for Bleeding Edge. Pynchon's writing takes a lot of time and energy to get through, but a brilliant read anyway (review coming soon!). 

This month I read:

2/7 non-fiction books (Keri Smith and Richard Hamblyn)
2/7 female authors (Lorrie Moore and Toni Morrison)
1/7 books published pre-2000 (Toni Morrison)

This month wasn't a hugely varied one thanks to my MA reading list (21st century and trauma, hooray) but there have been a few reads that really took me by surprise. Toni Morrison's Paradise and Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs were both absolutely amazing, whereas Don DeLillo's Falling Man really disappointed.

February looks a lot more promising book-wise as I only have 3 more books left on my course reading, then I will never have to follow a pre-set reading list again! Three cheers! Hip hip, hooray! I'm preparing myself for so much YA and fantasy, I can barely contain myself. 

Happy reading!
M x

P.S. Follow me on Goodreads here!


A Post-Christmas Book Haul

11:08 am

This isn't the edgiest of book hauls, I'll allow that. All the books I ordered were either bestsellers in the chart or massively hyped by the book blogging community, which I don't have a problem with at all. I received a £25 Amazon gift card as a late Christmas present and went about finding out how many books I could get with that amount of money. The answer was, as you can see, five! I'm really happy with my choices and I cannot wait to get started once I've (finally) finished my MA reading list. Only three books to go, phew. However much I'm loving the books I'm being assigned, I am very excited for reading lists to be totally out of my life.

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

'On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations run eerily true.'

Unless you've been living under a book-blogger rock, you've probably heard of The Miniaturist. From what I've read, I'm expecting this book to be spooky and full of suspense, so I cannot wait to pick it up. I don't think I've seen any bad reviews surrounding it as of yet!

Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel

'Bring Up the Bodies unlocks the darkly glittering court of Henry VIII, where Thomas Cromwell is now chief minister. With Henry captivated by plain Jane Seymour and rumours of Anne Boleyn's faithlessness whispered by all, Cromwell knows what he must do to secure his position. But the bloody theatre of the queen's final days will leave no one unscathed.'

The sequel to Wolf Hall and half of the basis of the current Wolf Hall BBC adaptation. I really loved the first book in the series and was eager to get into this before the show aired, but my reading list fiercely got in the way. I've never really gotten into historical fiction but I find the court of Henry VIII so fascinating that I was gripped by the first page of of Wolf Hall. Now I just need to decide to keep watching the series or read this first! I mean, we all know what happens in the end...

Wild - Cheryl Strayed

'At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family drifted apart and her marriage crumbled. With nothing left to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise: a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet.'

Strayed is probably sick of people comparing this to Eat Pray Love, but the story of a woman whose life has crumbled going on a life-changing adventure is one that will always hark back to Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller. After hearing Strayed interviewed on a podcast (I wish I could remember which one!) about the book, the film adaptation, and her thoughts on strong women, I knew I had to pick this up as well as some of her other books later on because she seems like such a true, hilarious, and caring woman.

Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay

I adore Roxane Gay. Her essays and articles on sexuality, gender, and race are always straight from the hearth and filled with truth. I finally picked up a copy of her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, after months of yearning and hearing her speaking on a variety of my favourite podcasts, one of them being the amazing Nerdette.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

'There are two sides to every story... Who are you? What have we done to each other? These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And when there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?'

Do we need any explanation here really? I really need to read the book before watching the film, even though it's practically impossible to be on the internet at the moment and not having it spoiled.

Have you picked up any books recently, or have you read any of these I've picked up?
M x