Today I am reading. Muslim Girl by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. A thought provoking read.
As readers, we all know the feeling. Those times when we just don’t want to read. We’re too tired, too stressed, too busy, physically ill or just not in the mood to read. We even have a name for this phenomenon. We call it a book slump/reading slump. I suffered from a reading slump last year. Let’s face it, 2016 was horrible. At least, my 2016 was horrible. It started with the death of celebrities. Then it threw Brexit and Trump at me. Then, if that wasn’t enough, the year threw family ill health at me with several family members enduring periods of ill health. It felt like every telephone call, news broadcast, or Twitter sprint brought sad, worrying or anger inducing news. Every contact with the outside world left me depressed and lethargic. This made me open to distractions. Reading was the last thing I wanted to do. On top of this, my enormous TBR list and tbr shelf made reading feel like a chore. So, how did I beat my reading slump. I simply took these steps.
Firstly, I sent a load of books to the charity shop. I gutted my tbr shelf, keeping only the books that I really wanted to read. This meant that I did not feel overwhelmed by my books. Secondly, I took all distractions off my phone and tablet. This left me with more time to read. Thirdly, I limited the time that I spent on twitter. I, also, cut back on times that I check my email. I no longer start my day with email and twitter. This meant that I had more time . This meant that I had more time to read and that I did not start my day feeling discouraged and depressed, more likely to read and write. That’s how I got back into the reading habit. Hope it helps.
I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A family grows in rural Russia. Their lives are in constant struggle with the natural world which is beyond their control. They find comfort in a mixture of old ‘pagan’ beliefs and the newer beliefs of the Christian church. A young woman fights outside pressures to find a path in an ever-changing world. This world is made up of Vasilisa and her family. Vasilisa is a young girl who loves folk tales and lives one. Her empathy with the natural and spiritual world makes her the apex of the conflict between old and new beliefs. This book shares the Fairy-tale feel of Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless and the Brothers Karamazov’s (by Dostoyevsky) questioning of spirituality, magic, and religion. I highly recommend this book.
Margaret the First
The Descent of Man
Please Note – Both books reviewed in this blog were kindly given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
So, we begin a new year. It’s time to clear up the loose ends of 2016. Then, I can move on to 2017. I will begin with my goals; I failed them all. I planned an ambitious reading goal of 180 books. While I easily achieved this goal in 2015/16, last year I read only 119 books. In addition, I signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge (#awwc2016). I only read one book from this challenge. As for my read the awards challenge, as predicted, I started well but then my enthusiasm flagged.
So, am I going to set any goals for 2017? Yes, I am gambling on a peaceful year and hoping that I can focus on my reading and writing. So, I have set my Good Reads reading challenge at 120. In addition, I have signed up to read 10 books that are over 400 pages long. Once again, I have signed up for the AWWWC, setting my goal at 24 books. As for awards, I plan to read along with a few but not as many as last year. I think I’ll see what happens throughout the year.
Now for the reviews.
I must apologise for how long it has taken me to write these reviews. I read these books before Christmas but, due to family and political traumas, didn’t feel like sitting down at my computer. I found it hard just to do basic work. Firstly, I will begin with Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton. This has a glorious cover and is a beautiful artefact. The book takes on the story of the historic figure Margaret Cavendish. Cavendish lived during an eventful period of English history. She was part of Charles I court, before having to flee England at the end of the civil war. This book outlines; her childhood, time in court, time in exile and her decision to begin her life as a writer. This experimentally written book explores what it was like to be a minor aristocrat during turbulent times. It explores what it was like to be a woman during a period where men reigned. It is an exciting read
Secondly, I turn my attention to Greyson Perry’s the Descent of Man. If Margaret the First looked at a woman in a man’s world, this book turns its attention to the male of the species. Using; their own experience, knowledge gained through conversations, and existing academic research, Perry explores how are current ideas of masculinity can be toxic to men. This book would make an excellent introduction to the topics and issues surrounding masculinity and is written in an enjoyably accessible way.
Both books are well worth a read. Both, look at different aspects of the gender divide. Whether a female living in a man’s world or a man living in a man’s world, it comes to the same thing. Both mem and women; cis and trans, must learn to navigate this toxic environment
The story of Egypt by Joanne Fletcher pub Hodder
Killer Tune by Dreda Say Mitchell pub Hodder
I am reading Killer Tunes for a in person reading group. This experience proves the value of reading groups. This is a book that I would have never have picked up on my own initiative. But, the group decided to read it, and I am really loving it.
1) what are you reading
2) are you part of a reading group? What do you think of them.
Have a good break, if you are having one. If not, have a productive week.
A young boy is born to a poor disjointed, displaced black American family. Charles/Janet was moved around, living with different family members at different times of their lives. Janet outlines; their childhood, the abuse that they suffered at the hands of a trusted adult, and the effects of feeling alienated from their own body; its bodily gender and the roles that society ascribes to that male body. The book explores the effects of several interconnecting, socially defined, identities on a young body. Mock explores the intersecting effects of; racism, poverty, family breakup/abuse, rigidly prescribed gender norms, and a disconnection between biological and actual gender identity on a person’s body and their understanding of that body. This book explores the life of a troubled child through the mature, experienced eyes of a woman, containing both; the pained innocence of childhood, and the critical understanding of an adult; with neither lens diluting the power of the other. The childhood trauma/pain is tempered by an adult understanding; without ever being diminished by it. Even in it’s painful moments, this book is infused with a sort of warmth. Well worth a read.
I didn’t think anything could make me smile today. But, then I heard that Solar Bones had won the Goldsmiths-prize :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen: