haul

November 2015 Book Haul

4:55 pm


This is potentially one of my biggest monthly book hauls yet, and definitely one of the most exciting. Like last month I'll be dividing it into new books I purchased, ones I bought secondhand, and ones sent to me by the publishers. Maybe there are some Christmas present ideas nestled in here, too.

New

Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater - The third book in The Raven Cycle and the next one for me to read in preparation for the final installment next year. Despite loving the series so far, I probably won't pick this up any time soon as I'm a bit off of YA at the moment and am looking for a change.

Authority - Jeff VanderMeer - The sequel to Annihilation*, which I read last month (review up soon!) and absolutely adored. It was infinitely creepy, beyond weird, and one of my favourite reads of the year, by far. Excited to see where the story goes and to learn more about the mysteries of this world.

Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You've Heard About China is Wrong - Ben Chu - I am a sucker for non-fiction reads, and this one really caught my eye in my local bookshop. The title says it all really.

Secondhand

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi - If you're into graphic novels, you probably would have heard of this one. Satrapi details her childhood living in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. It's an incredibly popular book in this genre and I know I'm going to find it absolutely fascinating. I've written and researched a fair bit on graphic memoirs in the past, so it will be nice to go back to the medium reading this.

Gilead - Marilynne Robinson - This first cropped up on my radar after the third book in this series, Lila, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year. As far as I can tell, these are all very slow-paced family sagas, told from varying generations.

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff - Young adult dystopias, ahoy. This isn't one I heard a lot about until the film was released (I still haven't seen it). The synopsis details how Daisy goes to visit family in the tranquil, delightful countryside of England, and the next day a bomb goes off, the world taken over by a new enemy. Mysterious.

The ChrysalidsConsider Her Ways and Others, and Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham - John Wyndham fest. After loving The Day of the Triffids, I thought I would devour the rest of his books over the next year. Fortunately the secondhand sci-fi section of my local bookshop has a fair amount of his books stacked up, so I immediately grabbed the first ones I could see.

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides - Confessions: I never finished The Virgin Suicides. I don't know why. I really don't know why. I'm very intruiged by the premise of Middlesex, however. From what I can gather, this book is about an intersex character and takes the form of a family history of sorts. Very high on my TBR list.

Sent for review

The Street* - Bernadine Bishop - I can't find a lot of information about this book, but I was drawn to its description, telling how it describes the everyday actions of a varied group of people, including a soldier with Alzheimer's, an actor, a woman seeking love, and an immortal cat.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke* - Anne Blankman - This has not been the first time I've requested a book for review, only to find out it's a sequel. Do your research, Megan. I will definitely be picking up the first book in the series, however, as it tells the story of a young women attempting to escape Germany during WWII after sympathising with a Jewish reporter. This proves difficult for multiple reasons, one of them being that her 'uncle' is, in fact, Hitler himself. Ooh, drama.

Hoping that you all had an enjoyable November and got your mitts on some good reads.

M x

reading

Book Review: Helle Helle's This Should Be Written in the Present Tense

10:36 am


Helle Helle's This Should Be Written in the Present Tense is a very simple book. It tells the story of Dorte, a young women, supposedly studying in Copenhagen, but really living alone by a railway station, unsure of what to do with her days. Throughout the story she has numerous relationships with men of varying intensities, but they never fill the void for her. This sense of emptiness and lack can be felt through Helle's incredibly minimalist writing style, focusing more on surroundings and the normality of Dorte's flat than what she is actually feeling. I felt, whilst reading, that I could picture everything in minute detail, from layers of dust to minor fabric imperfections, but Dorte's thoughts still passed me by. I did, however, feel a real closeness to her way of thinking  when it was described. There is a wonderful parallel in this too between Dorte's life and that of another young woman, her older friend, also called Dorte, which can be confusing for the first few chapters. Their lives mirror one another, despite a difference in ages. I enjoyed the idea that their experiences are universal.

This short novel does a very believable job at describing the life of a young woman unsure of where her life is heading, and unsure of what she really wants, simply through its sparse, yet beautiful, writing style. I've never read a text like this before, and the only thing I can think to compare it to, bizarrely, is the work of Samuel Beckett and the emptiness his writing contains, whilst still giving the reader so much to work with.

Recommended to: young women, and appreciators of minimalism. 

interiors

Books for My Non-Existent Coffee Table

9:05 am

I'm not at that point in my life yet where I have a trendy low coffee table strewn with books because space is pretty bloody crucial at the moment. I live in one room so giving myself something extra to trip over really isn't an option. That aside, I do have a rather wonderful collection of 'oversize' books on their own bookcase, available for perusing whenever my heart desires. I normally get a few for Christmas as they're not normally something I would buy myself and leave them around to read in small chunks. In some cases, there aren't really many words, as you'll see, so they can only really be defined as 'coffee table' books.





This is one I was given by my grandparents when they were having a clear out of their house as I couldn't bear to see it go anywhere else. I'm happy this is one that also comes with information about various artists and styles as I'm always interested to learn more about artistic movements and the people behind the creations. 





I received this beast of a book last Christmas and spent the whole day reading it (whilst watching, in total, four Star Trek films and having a long nap). The basis is pretty simple: the history of Batman's universe, told year-by-year, highlighting the pivotal issues, the introduction of famous characters, and relationships between varying arcs. It's everything I enjoy to read about, and it's been a really handy source for deciding which stories to read next.





Hyrule Historia - Patrick Thorpe.

My emotions when I finally found this translated into English. The Legend of Zelda series has pretty much been everything to me since my early teens, and I remember when this was first released in Japanese. Pretty much everybody I knew was itching to get their hands on a copy, and when I saw this in Forbidden Planet all of those years later, I knew I couldn't leave without it. It covers the history of the series, gives a provisional timeline for the events of all of the games (basically what everybody wanted confirmed for decades), shows beautiful concept illustrations, and ends with a manga introduction to the most recent game (at the time of publishing), Skyward Sword. Swoon.




Marvel Encyclopedia - Alastair Dougall.

Fairly self-explanatory. An encyclopedia of Marvel characters and some summaries of important comic events. This is another one that I can dip in an out of, and I'm absolutely in love with. The only problem with books like this is how quickly they can fall out of date, with the comics world changing drastically week-by-week.





Rankin Portraits - Rankin.

I can't remember how many years I've had this now, but it was my first foray into the photography of Rankin, and I've been following his pursuits ever since. I love his simple style and how he focuses on 'the person', rather than any fancy props or costumes. This is such a pleasing book to flick through when you're looking for some minimalism inspiration. 






Bond On Set: Filming Skyfall - Greg Williams.

This is one I picked up about a week after seeing Skyfall because I really wasn't ready to let it go. I could talk about that film all day, but it rekindled everything in me I ever felt towards the Bond films (in a post-Quantum world, that's very impressive), and that's as much depth as I'll go into today.  I found the cinematography of the film possibly my favourite aspect, so buying this was a non-negotiable for me.



Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940 - William Packer.

Another book saved from the clear-out. It's fascinating to see what magazine covers used to look like, compared to the shiny photographs and barrage of tiny headlines shouting at you like we have today.






The Wes Anderson Collection - Matt Zoller Seitz and Wes Anderson.

Last, but certainly not least, is the latest addition to my coffee table book collection. This volume takes a behind-the-scenes look of all of Wes Anderson's movies (excluding Grand Budapest which came out after publication), including set design, props, scriptwriting, cinematography, costumes. For someone with such a distinct aesthetic style as Anderson, this gives a really interesting insight into how he comes to have all of these ideas.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a coffee table book collection? Please leave a comment below telling me!

M x

lifestyle

My Journey to Minimalism: Part #1

10:34 am


I've always found it extremely therapeutic to delete people off of Facebook. After teenage years of wanting to have the highest friend count out of my friend group, or looking up to people I knew with lists in the thousands (I guess this was more applicable to Myspace as that was 'the thing' back then), I'm having a wonderful time paring that number down again. I'm deleting anyone from school who I only knew because they were in the same musical production as me, anyone I met drunkenly at the student union when I was doing my undergraduate degree, or anyone from that period whom I only ever spoke to about what we were studying. They all have to go. 

Then there's the issue of people you know you can't delete for varying reasons (you met under strange circumstances and they would know 100% that you deleted them, rather than you never being friends in the first place, if you understand what I'm trying to say, i.e. not someone from school who would just assume you were never friends in the first place). I've been unfollowing their feeds, so it still says I'm their friend, I just can't see any of their 'So-And-So liked a video'/'Earned a new badge on Farmville'/'Shared an article' updates. Not as therapeutic, but does the same wonderful job of clearing the junk and unimportant (to me) things on my social media.

I've been unfollowing many, many Twitter and Instagram accounts too. This is the point where you find out I've unfollowed you; please don't take it personally. Or do, that's up to you. I am endeavoring to turn my feeds into something I want to read, something that doesn't say I have 200 posts I've missed when I haven't checked it for an hour, something that makes me feel good rather than concerned. I used to be all about following as many things as possible so I could attempt to absorb as much information as I could about absolutely anything. I was convinced it would make me a more interesting person, but instead I just end up ignoring everything. Now my feeds are looking a bit clearer, with occasional updates on things I care about. Books, wellbeing, happy thoughts. My Instagram is basically a barren wasteland of updates, and I like it that way.

Of course I also got heavily into sorting out my email updates. I keep a very empty inbox anyway, archiving away anything I'm not interested in or is no longer relevant. Inbox zero is a sweet, sweet place to live. But now I make sure that when those emails come in that I'm not interested in, I click on their 'unsubscribe' button, usually buried at the bottom of the message. Tidier inbox, a lot less archiving needed. I get emails from family and selected newsletters that make me feel happy and educated when I read them (Ann Friedman, Emma Gannon, Sarah Starrs, etc). That's all.

Finally, my Bloglovin' feed needed taking down a peg or two. It sat there, week in, week out, jeering at me with its 'new posts' count in the hundreds, knowing I couldn't keep up and that it was getting me down. First move: go into settings and change my feed to 'oldest posts first'. That's more motivation to get reading, as you'll never be tempted when a brand new shiny post appears on the top to read it and ignore the rest. Scroll through, read what you want, and cut out any blogs you find yourself always clicking 'mark as read' for. You're not interested in what they're posting, just admit it. Let them go. Now my feed happily chugs away at ~20 new posts in a day, which is much easier to deal with, I get to read things I'm interested in, and the smaller number gives me more time to actually interact with the person posting, leaving comments and letting them know that I enjoyed what they're saying. It's a blogging community for a reason and I definitely let that get out of my sight for a while.

So we've got Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin', and my emails under control. Next time: passwords, privacy, and information security. Recommended reading would be this guide called 'DIY Feminist Cybersecurity'. 

Let's sort our shit out.

M x

haul

October 2015 Book Haul

9:10 am


* I was fortunate to receive two of these books via the publishers and Bookbridgr, thank you! *

October seemed to rush by before I could actually buy myself any books. I've been getting stuck in with my new job, which is going really well, and preparing for the paper I presented last Saturday, which also went really well! Fortunately I was lucky enough to receive a couple of books in the post from publishers, and the middle one from some wonderful friends to say congratulations on my new job. So here's what I received in the month of October:

Holy Cow* - David Duchovny - Fox Mulder's foray into very strange bovine fiction. Elsie (a cow) and a mixed bunch of oddly human animals escape from their home in order to seek out safer pastures. From what I can grasp, this book has a lot to say on religion. I've heard really mixed things about it, but I'm always happy to try a bit of weirdness, so maybe it'll get a thumbs up from me.

The Loney* - Andrew Michael Hurley - A new horror release about a mysterious placed called the 'Loney'. I don't know much about it but I know it's had a very good reception and I was very excited when it came through my letterbox. Plus it's a gorgeous hardcover, which I can't turn down.

Among Others - Jo Walton - Told in the style of a diary, this book tells the story of a young girl growing up around a family of magic and the wonder of science fiction books. Tragic events unfold and she is sent off to boarding school where she becomes an outcast, but cannot escape the magic that surrounds her life. Books + magic = a winning formula for me, so I can't wait to pick this up.

Let me know what books you picked up in the month of October, or whether you've read any of the ones I've mentioned above.

M x