Books | 2019

I set out on a personal challenge to read 12 books in 2019, and gosh does it feel good to know that I did it. With 2019 being the centenary of the vote for women in England I got really interested in reading feminist literature, I started out softly with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short, but really good book We Should All Be Feminists and have progressed from there. You might also notice a lot of Harry Potter on the list. I am one of those rare people that didn’t read the series when it came out, unlike my brother who swallowed them up whole as soon as they were out. Don’t get me wrong I think I’ve read the first one four times over and the second two and a half times… I just never got any further. However, with the challenge in mind, and newfound interest in understanding all the references to Harry Potter – thanks in part to a good friend having been on the Quidditch team at uni – I set about to rectify the situation. I enjoyed reading them, read the first two while travelling in Japan, though I must admit I got less and less interested in them as they progressed. The storylines just weren’t really my cup of tea… But to each her own.

Books read in 2019:

  1. Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Danny Danziger
  2. Becoming, Michelle Obama
  3. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. Women & Power, Mary Beard
  5. Educated, Tara Westover
  6. Zen: The Art of Simple Living, Shunmyo Masuno
  7. The History of Bees, Maja Lunde
  8. Harry Potter The Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  9. Harry Potter, The Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
  10. Harry Potter, The Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
  11. Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
  12. Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  13. Harry Potter, The Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

Books | The History of Bees

The best laid plans of mice and men… The end of dissertation time has turned into the beginning of September, but there is no time like the present to take on the challenge I set myself at the beginning of the year. Read 12 books in 12 months. I haven’t made a tally of the number of books I have read so far, but have a feeling I have physically read about 6 books and listened to 3 audio books – I’m slowly making my way through the Narnia series again.

This book was recommended to me by my housemate after she learned that my father keeps bees – in fact she thought it was so good that she gave me her copy of the book to ensure I read it… And what a read it was!! I cannot recommend it enough, a confidently blended narrative filled with stories that bring facts about bees to life in a thrilling and culturally sensitive way. It reads like a loveletter to bees, while also showing how we as people are intertwined with these magnificent creatures. Okay, I might be slightly biased here – being the daughter of a beekeeper and all…

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Books | Feminism

A few weeks ago I went to the local Waterstone’s to pick up a new book to read for my 12 book challenge. Inspired by this post by actress and director Olivia Wilde and the comments on it, I had set off to buy Tara Westover’s Educated. Being there anyway I decided I to look for another book I have been meaning to read, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, as well. After some searching, I found it in a section dedicated to feminist scholarship. A collection of all sorts women writing about the female experience. Looking at the books there I was struck by how little I had actually read or even heard of before. I have grown up with a mother who lives and breathes feminism, but we never really talked about the scholarship that is at its core. Picking up Gay’s book I decided then and there to to focus my next couple of readings on feminism.

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Books | Becoming

Pink, orange and pale yellow coloured smoke swirl into one another in front of a black background.

So, this blogpost is long overdue. I actually finished reading this book in mid January, but with uni work ramping up as we are nearing the end of our taught modules and the beginning of research there hasn’t been much time to write.

What a great read, I must admit the start was a little slow and a little wavering, but once it got going it was so good. I mean don’t get me wrong, even the wobbly bits are better than most biographies. What Michelle Obama manages to pull off in this book is nothing short of amazing; she delivers her story while schooling us all on gender, socio-economics, respect and race. With great difficulty I have picked out a few quotes that speak to a small selection of the themes that Michelle Obama speaks to… If you have the chance to grab a copy I highly recommend it.

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Books | Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The entrance hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

So I read my first book, and it is not even the end of January yet. If you read my last post you will know that I am on a quest to reconnect with reading. I happened upon the book quite by accident as I was perusing our university library for resources to use for an assignment I was working on, so I grabbed it and ended up reading it cover-to-cover.

“Keith is a tall, athletic-looking man, with the firmest handshake you would ever want to avoid”

p. 46 – Writing about Keith Christiansen, Jayne Wrightsman Curator, European Paintings
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Books | Dyslexia

I am dyslexic. Not in the ‘letters jump around on the page’-kind of way, but in the ‘my reading speed is extremely slow and I have great trouble forming a coherent argument as my thoughts get jumbled very easily’-kind of way. I did not get diagnosed until I was in my first year of university, despite being tested in my final year of college – turns out it takes a more holistic approach to be diagnosed when you have developed coping mechanisms for undiagnosed dyslexia. But why am I telling you all this? Well, I am finally ready – seven years after being diagnosed – to figure out what my life can look like living with dyslexia. For too long I have treated it as a crutch. This blog is part of that process for me. I want to create a place where I can hold my self accountable to exploring my identity – dyslexia and all. A place where I can document my growths, struggles, frustrations and great experiences alike.

In the past 10 years I have read maybe only a handful of books – I have had very little drive to read and great frustration when a book took longer than a week to complete – often resulting it being put away unread. Granted part of the reason was that I was in university where the reading burden was large and looming, especially with my type of dyslexia… but also I was unaware of the consequences of allowing years of frustration with my reading speed dictate my relationship with books. In recent years I have taken a great interest in the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT), in particular the emphasis it puts on the importance of thought processes. Thanks to this method I have come to lots of realisations about my life, and managed to reassess a wealth of situations that previously stomped me, but more importantly it is currently helping me change my relation to reading. I am on a quest to change my relationship with books. So far for 2019 I have read a whole book and am well underway with the second. Might this be the year where I read at least twelve books before December 31st?

Featured photograph by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com