Sunday, 21 January 2018

Sunday Sundries

*Tries to be cool about making it back here for another Sunday post*
Aw yeah, look at me go.

Let's see, how was my week. I started it off feeling weirdly extra-tired and slightly headache-y, which developed into a fully blown migraine by Wednesday, so I had to leave work early and essentially lay down until, well, Saturday, so that was not very fun. I am feeling better now, which is good, but it was still not a fun way to spend half a week!

On the plus side, my blog birthday was this week, and it made me feel all good and smiley about blogging again. It was also my cousin's birthday yesterday, so today I got to hang out with my family, which ALSO made me feel all good and smiley, so yay for people! In other selfish-people-born-in-January news, it's my boyfriend's birthday this week, and because he's working lates and I'm working, you know, daytime hours, I'll get to see him for a grand total of about an hour in the morning, so I'm taking Friday off (his weekends are also Fridays and Saturdays, SIGH) to hang out with him cause, you know, birthdays are important!

Because I have nothing really to talk about, let's do the thing with the things I'm doing now, yeah? Good.

I Have Been...

Writing:
I did miss one day of writing prompts this week because, you know, migraine, but I did manage to catch up by doing two yesterday, which made me feel full of achievement and joy and stuff. I'm still really enjoying pushing myself to write every day, and finding little pockets of time to fit it in- obviously some days I'm more engaged than others, but that's true for everything, every day.

Reading:
I definitely read more this week than someone with a migraine should, but what can you do, I can't fight these disturbing instincts I have. I finished Sleeping Beauties and Hidden Figures this week, and this morning I was reading The Little Book of Hygge, which did itself feel very Hygge as I was tucked up in bed at the same time.

Listening:
I have, in recent months, upped the number of podcasts I actively listen to from one (The Babysitters Club Club) to THREE (My Dad Wrote A Porno and Thirst Aid Kit) and I am really loving them. I'm still really just creeping my way through them because (I tell myself) I have no time to listen to podcasts but they are fab. My Dad Wrote A Porno (in case you didn't know) is literally a son and his friends reading their way through his dad's terrible terrible porn novels, and Thirst Aid Kit is the excellent Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins and they talk about desire and pop culture and basically about men they fancy in a really fun and smart way. I can't recommend it enough, to be honest.

Watching:
I went to see Coco yesterday and it was so excellent and moving and I cried like a baby for the last 10 minutes or so which is how I knew I was watching a Pixar film. I am keeping a list of all the films I watch this year, you know, for funsies, so I might do blog posts about that, but the chances are also good that I won't. I am also currently watching Gilmore Girls because, you know, default mode.

Looking:
Since I just secured a new job, I feel like I'm not really looking for anything right now, but am just feeling generally contented in my life and whatnot. It's a nice feeling to just be floating along for now, since this year seems like it's going to be kiiiind of manic.

Learning:
Having just read Hidden Figures I've been learning a lot about the US space programme, and it has made me feel like I should probably read more non-fiction about things I don't really know anything about because learning new things is fun and good. Basically.

Feeling:
I'm still feeling a bit sleepy and ugh from being off work this past week, but I'm hoping that jumping back into it tomorrow will make/force me to feel better!

Anticipating:
3 weekends in a row in London, the bookshop crawl, and THE BLOODY END OF MY JOB. 4 weeks has never felt so long, I swear.

Wishing: 
For spring to hurry up and get here, and for the ability to pull my finger out to get a holiday booked with my fella. We will sort it!

Loving:
Spending time with my family and any and all bonus extra time I get to spend with my boyfriend. People are cool, hey?

Wasn't that very exciting and enlightening?! I am going to the movies twice this week because Oscar season = taking advantage of my Odeon Limitless membership, and with my day off on Friday, I don't think it's going to be so bad (she says). I hope you all have fabulous weeks, my little pretties.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Very Merry Blog Birthday To Meeeeeeeeee

Oh yes, that's right. Devouring Texts is 7 years old today! I don't have too much to say about it, to be honest, but have I ever forgotten a blog birthday? Check the archives, no I have not, so there you go.

I don't really have any deep or profound thoughts to share, and it's been a long time since my blog has been the centre of my life, which is a good thing, I think, but it's still an important place to me, and still somewhere I meander off to every so often to share my thoughts and feels and the like. I think it's a very good thing for everyone to have a place like that, even though it doesn't have to be a whole place, I think, it can just be a person.

I have a place and quite a few persons now, which I think makes me very lucky.

As promised, I really am trying to be a consistent-ish blogger, and please see how I keep coming back weekly, even if I haven't posted a book review all year! So many excellent things in my life have come from blogging, and I like to think that if I keep plugging away, what other excellent things might arise? And, if nothing else, the thing that arises is happiness and enjoyment of just writing a few bits and pieces, which is good enough for me.

So, 7 years. A ridiculous length of time to do anything, really, but I'm very happy to have been here, and I'm happy you've all been here too.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sunday Sundries

What is this?! Some kind of consistency?! Witchcraft!

That's correct, I am here, without a clear aim but with some kind of urge to really honestly and truly make blogging a habit (again), to some degree! Just look at me go! If only I had an interesting life to tell you all about, everything would be fine.

Let's see... I handed in my notice at work, which means that I'm basically just waiting out the time I have left there until I can finally leave and move on to a better place *dramatic face work*. It's always a bit of a strange time, I guess, since there's a limit to how much I can care about things, but I still have to care about things because otherwise, to be frank, they just won't get done. But anyway, I'm just doing my time, keeping my head down, and hoping it goes quickly.

Outside of work, I've been trying to use my time as effectively as possible, and it's actually going quite well. This is kiiiiind of a new year thing I guess, but I'm trying to ignore that and genuinely just make changes to my life slowly and steadily. This all sounds really dramatic, when all I'm really talking about is like, trying to do yoga as soon as I come in from work, instead of putting it off and just not doing it, and reading instead of watching TV, and doing my writing prompt every single damn day.

I have been doing my writing prompt every single damn day, by the way, with varying degrees of engagement and success. By which I mean, some nights I have basically no time or energy to do it (see: Thursday night when I got in at about 11pm, or Friday night when I had a few glasses of wine after work) but I still get something down, and it's really starting to feel less like a chore, and just a fun thing to look forward to after work (I KNOW). This was really the point of the writing prompts (for me, anyway) so I'm pretty pleased with the results thus far!

As for reading, I have been doing some but probably less than usual because of the aforementioned other activities. I say this mainly because I have only finished two books this year BUT I keep forgetting that the main reason for this is because I'm reading a 700+ page Stephen and Owen King behemoth which makes me feel like NOTHING IS ACHIEVED. Is reading all about achievement? Not even a little, and I would do well to remember that while I constantly ignore all of my giant books so I can read three smaller ones instead. Like, seriously, that's a problem for me and I need to fix it.

But anyway. Working on it by reading giant book so everything is going to be fine. Plus, this weekend, I found Simpsons Chess in a charity shop, so everything really is going to be fine!
See what I mean about no clear aim? But hey, we got through it relatively unscathed, right? I hope you all had excellent weeks and weekends, and let's face the new week with courage and dignity and whatnot...

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Sunday Sundries

That's right, I'm really really trying to bring blogging back. Make things habits and all that jazz...

This week, I'm not entirely sure I woke up at all. Sort of sleepwalked through work and tried not to make weird decisions or break things, and in that I was pretty successful! It was remarkable only in two ways- first I had to train a new person which is one of my least favourite things, but was actually fine, albeit a little bit, well, exhausting; but secondly, I GOT A NEW JOB, which is great and means that my time teaching people things and also being taken advantage of are soon to end (for a bit, until I've learnt my new job, I am sure).

Some notes on the new job though- it's in a different department at my current workplace and is actually just one door down from my current office, so when I start I imagine I will sail straight past the right door about 80% of the time because that's just what I'm like as a person. I had my interview for it just before Christmas, and then things were a bit up in the air over the Christmas break which meant there was just a teensy part of me that didn't quite relax, so if nothing else I'm relieved to know what kind of work I'll be doing this year! And, obviously, that it went the way I wanted it to!

That's just work though, and if I'm completely honest, I think of work as a means to an end rather than as my everything. It pays the bills but my interests lie in other places that don't earn money *looks lovingly at blog* *and books* *etc*. My best friend and I have been sending each other writing prompts every day in an attempt to improve our writing and think more creatively and all of that sort of good stuff, and although I thought it was going to be a new year thing for a couple of days, it's still going and I realise it's only been a week BUT STILL. It takes 3 weeks to form a habit, so no matter how tired I am, I'm doing this writing thing, dammit.

I have also been trying to get back into yoga but got slightly derailed this week by a horrible journey home from work- it's still on my mind to do it though, so watch this space (for when I tell you more, week by week, that I haven't done any yoga).

I moved in September last year (I probably briefly mentioned it but eh, who can remember?) and one of the excellent side effects of this is that my bedside table is now a little bookcase. This is partially a money saving option (my previous bedside table was a chest of drawers- but like a big one that you put all your clothes in) and partially a thing where there wasn't really any other space for the little bookcase. Either way, it's worked out great for me because I get to make a pile o'books to read imminently and instead of them just forming a big, dangerous pile on the floor, I put them on my bookcase and just take them out as I want.

The other two shelves have books and comics that I want near me at all times, but that's neither here nor there (except it is here and they are near me and I love them.

And here is the stack for the next... little bit of time, pre-shelving:
 So little colour in the spines...
Just to pick a few out, I really want to read The Dud Avocado because Greta Gerwig is my current obsession and I read something about it being a big inspirational book for her, so SOLD. Dorothy Parker is my favourite wit that I have actually read none of, so I'm trying to rectify that, and I have had Talk Talk by T C Boyle for approximately forever- I keep buying his books because I read The Tortilla Curtain once and it was great, but never reading them, so I'm trying to rectify that. Also Margaret Atwood is Margaret Atwood, and if Alias Grace is good then I can watch the TV show which is great because I think Anna Paquin is excellent.

And also I guess some other books I want to read and stuff.

Not pictured are my challenge book for the month (Hidden Figures) and the book I'm actually currently reading- the behemoth that is Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King, and which, as soon as I leave the house, will not be my sole read anymore because woahhhh I like having a functioning spine, thank you.

Now tell me everything- how have you been? Did you sleepwalk through the week too? (Tell me it's not just me!) How about these books, huh? Huh? 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A Challenging 2018

What is this madness, three posts in three days?! It must be a new year or something or other. 

The title of this post refers not to my life challenges for 2018 (but, for reals, I have 3 family weddings to attend and no doubt do things for so there are many challenges ahead!) but reading challenges! Of which I want to do literally one, so I guess a reading challenge is what I should have said but never mind. 

When I first started blogging, I signed up for a load of challenges at the start of the year and got burnt out and bored and basically just rebellious within about a month or so. This kind of defeated the object so I stopped signing up for things, and have pretty much just been doing RIP each year (which isn't a challenge for me at all, really!) and reading all the Stephen King. Now that I have read all the Stephen King, and in an attempt to get me blogging semi-not-never again, here is my newest challenge:

The deal with this challenge is basically that I asked on twitter for a pretty low key reading challenge that didn't involve reading, like, 52 books in a year, because of my general lack of commitment to being told what to read in any way. Elena suggested this challenge, and when I checked it out it sounded PERFECT.  It's just one book a month for the year, and each category is so broad, it's almost not a challenge at all except it is so it's all good! I feel like I might decide at the start of each month what to read for the challenge, so let's start that this month!

The prompt for January is:

Diversify your reading- Kick the reading year off right and shake things up. Read a book with a character (or written by an author) of a race, religion, or sexual orientation other than your own.

See what I mean about it being pretty broad?! Realistically I'd actually like to read a lot of books fitting that description, but the specific book I'm picking for it issssss:

Hidden Figures! Ostensibly because, ya know, I really really liked the film, but also because it's about three women facing racism and sexism and it seems like a good way to read widely. It's also written by a black lady, which doesn't hurt.

My aim for this challenge is pretty much to review each book I read for it, even if I review nothing else all year (which is NOT my aim, I should add, but could easily happen because me). So watch this space if you really want to know about Hidden Figures. And join meeee cause this challenge feels fun already!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Things I Read In December

Happy New Year! Happy two posts in two days! Happy lots of things!

Even though I pretend it means nothing to me, I actually like new years. I always feel fresher and a little cleansed on the first day of a new year, even though nothing has really changed. My body always seems to feel like it has, and that's good enough for me. I don't really believe in making new years resolutions, but I do believe in living each day to the fullest, whatever that means for that specific day, and I do pledge to do more of that in the new year.

Firstly, though, a recap of December reads. I also thought that, as it's an end of year thing, I'd pick my favourite book from each month of last year, just for the funsies. But first, the things I read in December:
Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes and A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou
I should probably look at the individual merits of each of these books, but, you know, I only have one more day off work and I really don't want to be blogging ALL day. These remaining books in Angelou's biography (which, if you'll recall, were basically the only books I wanted to finish in December!) span her tour with Porgy and Bess, her second marriage, her time spent living in Africa, and her time back in America, including the deaths of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

There's a fairly common consensus that I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the best of the 6 books that make up Angelou's memoirs, and I would agree but I also wouldn't have missed these books for anything. Angelou's life sounds complex and difficult and exciting but more than anything just completely human and relatable. These books cover the time from Angelou's childhood to when she was 40 and asked to write her memoirs, and I'd give anything to read her account of her remaining 46 years. I pretty much read these because I was considering reading all of the books of My Struggle (which I will still read, don't get me wrong) but thought I should probably read the actual struggles of a black woman than the travails of a middle class white man, and boy do I not regret that decision. Get your hands on these, read and live and learn. It's what Maya would want.

Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films by Jody Revenson
Not pictured, because I borrowed this from my buddy at work, and I'm not even sure if I should review it because, like, it's kind of a coffee table book? Regardless, here I go- This is a very good coffee table book, and if you're into the Harry Potter films, boy are you going to want to read more about the locations and whatnot. I am not into the films which fully explains why I have been on the studio tour four times (oh, Laura...) but I still found this very pretty to look at, even if I feel as though I am getting a little bit of Harry Potter (movie!) fatigue, if I'm completely honest. Still, a very well put together coffee table book, and definitely worth borrowing from a colleague if not spending what I'm sure was a huge amount of money on.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
I got this book for Christmas and read the whole thing on December 27th. I didn't read the whole thing because it was exactly a pleasure to read, but more because I physically couldn't stop reading, couldn't stop enjoying Gay's prose even as I was reading all of the horrible things that have been done to her. Hunger is a memoir (obviously) of Gay's relationship to her body (also probably obviously) and of the horrible divide that happened when she was gang raped aged 12, which she refers to as before and after she was broken. Gay writes about so many things in this book- the desire to make herself large so as to be unattractive, and so undamaged by, men, the self-sabotage and panic that arises from losing weight, the paradox of being a feminist and wanting to not be ashamed for taking up space, but being ashamed anyway but also unable to change anything. Or, not everything.

I love Gay's writing (and am now finally knuckling down to Bad Feminist because she is so good), and I especially loved her almost disclaimer at the start of the book- that something terrible happened to her, but she hasn't really talked/written about it because she doesn't want to be defined by the thing that happened to her because she just has so much more to say that isn't related. At the same time, though, Gay takes the steps to realise that although she won't be defined by it, it has shaped a lot of her life, and you have already realised before she says it at the end of the book, that writing it has been like a kind of therapy for her. Facing demons and releasing them, and all of that good stuff. Read it in a day, would happily read it again today, this is really very very excellent writing.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I love this book, and I love that it's my book that closes off the year. I was reading this all through November and December (which is to say, not reading it), I think partially in preparation for the Little Women miniseries that I watched 10 minutes of and had to turn off, but mostly just because, I really love Little Women. I understand, fully, that it's problematic, but I think what you have to understand is that I don't care. I read Little Women for the first time as a pre-teen, so it's not even a book anymore so much as a part of me; the characters aren't so much characters as my own family, my four sisters I can visit at any time. I realise that this is very non-literary critical of me (did I ever mention why I'm not an actual academic..?) but, once again, I don't care. Little Women is life, and I love it as much now as ever.

And that was December. I read a lot more than I was expecting too because of christmas things, and so I consider it a complete success. I also consider it a complete success because I only read books by women (and nearly all by non-white women) so long may that continue!

BONUS: My favourite books of the year, by month:

January
Real Artists have Day Jobs - Sara Benincasa

February
The Vegetarian - Han King

March

Chavs - Owen Jones

April
11.22.63 - Stephen King

May
If This Is A Woman - Sarah Helm

June
Miss Buncle's Book - D E Stevenson

July
On Beauty - Zadie Smith

August
My Struggle I: A Death in the Family - Karl Ove Knaussgard

September
The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

October
The Sun and Her Flowers - Rupi Kaur

November
Manhattan Beach - Jennifer Egan

December
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (duh)

Sunday, 31 December 2017

End of Year Wrap Up and Everything

Hi, Hi, Hi! Here I am, limping in on the last day of the year like I've been here all along, did you miss me so much or what? As always, I come without promise of any kind of posting consistency in the new year, but with much enthusiasm for the year just passed.

Having looked back on this post from last year, I can see that I got a little out of control with the word count, mainly because of, you know, having to fit the news of a whole year into one post because hey, remember me? I am the girl who is bad at updating her blog. This year, I'll try to keep it brief, but who can promise about such things? Definitely not me.

So, 2017. The biggest personal thing for me was moving away from the house I'd been in for 4 years, and moving in with my boyfriend! This is definitely not what I expected at the start of the year, but it has so far turned out to be the best big life decision I've made since... Well, the last time I moved! Work wise, things haven't been so good, but I may have news regarding that soon so watch this space (which, you know, I will try to update hopefully maybe more often but who knows).

Life this year, though, has really been all about spending all the time with my boyfriend that I can (he has had three different jobs and all of them have had weird ass hours), making good use of my network railcard to visit him until we lived in literally the same place, and the rest of the time trying to see friends and family and generally having a balanced life and stuff. I guess it makes sense that the year feels like it's been split into two (uneven) halves, but it's strange to think that at the start of the year I was living in a completely different place, newly in love and going about my usual daily business and now I'm basically just a cohabiting partner, innit?

Reading wise, it's also been a split year. To start with I was really spending a lot of time with my boyfriend and so practically forgot that books existed, and now I spend over an hour on buses every day which has been so good for my reading I can't even tell you. It's also the year I discovered Rupi Kaur, finally, FINALLY finished my Stephen King challenge, and ALSO finally read all of Maya Angelou's memoir series. I guess it's been a year of finallys, in that sense, and I feel like I can face the new reading year with less things to feel guilty about not reading, and more things to look forward to reading.

Shall we look at some stats? I think we should.

Number of Books Read: 80
Number of Pages Read: 27,720
Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: 59/21
New Reads vs. Rereads: 74/6
Men vs. Women: 36/44
White vs. Non-White: 62/18 (ooof)
Translated vs. Not: 6/74
Digital vs. Physical: 3/77

I think from that, we can pretty much ascertain that I read physical books originally written in English by white men or women. I'm fairly proud that my women reads outweigh men this year (this might be the first year that's happened because of Stephen King reasons) but overall MUST DO BETTER. I'm thinking of maaaybe doing a challenge or two this year though, so that might spur me on to read better. You know, maybe.

And and and can we look at this little thing because I have NEWS:

So last year, I didn't do so well with this challenge. I read my own books, sure, but I also bought a lot of books to replace the ones that I had read. That was not the point AT ALL, so nice work, me. This year, yes, I still bought books. Of course I did. However, I definitely tried to stay conscious whilst in a bookshop and only buy books that I REALLY wanted, rather than ones that just sounded kinda interesting. Of the books I've bought, I would only count 29 as outstanding, which means less than 30 books added this year to the books left to read, which I don't think is so bad. More importantly, though, let's talk about this figure. I started the year with 338 books left to read, and I am ending the year with, wait for it, 256! Still an obviously ridiculous number, but let me tell you, moving does wonders for getting rid of a whole load of books you're probably never going to read. And that's not all- out of 80 books read this year, 58 of them were books I had already owned, and I am very very ok with that number.

In 2018, I'm still completely focusing on reading my own damn books, and because I kind of want to try and save some money a little, I kind of don't even want to buy any books (she says now)? I'm not enforcing any kind of strict ban, but at the same time I'm just trying to be sensible and also read all of the lovely books I've already bought! I have very very very many obligation things to do next year (THREE WEDDINGS!) so who knows how much I'll get to read, but, you know, I can guarantee it'll be something...