long time no see? I know it has been a while since I uploaded and these photos have been laying dormant on my laptop screen waiting to be inserted into a blog post, by which time I’ve read plenty more books, have a lot more to update you on and life starts getting hectic. Although it doesn’t really feel that busy. I’m currently sat listening to Downstreams by Max Swan from my piano playlist (I’ve had a sudden desire to consume every modern classical pianists work in a sort of experiment to see if it increases my productivity. Answer: it has.) Follow my piano playlist on Spotify if you do so desire. But it’s Friday night and I’ve sat down to write a blog post and it feels great and I miss it and I really need to just schedule time to writing one post a week again. In reality, however, I know that won’t happen till the summer.
I’ve currently been reading my history notes on the Stuarts era, alongside various dystopian novels, some of which will be discussed here, but also a few books that are in no related to academia and are like a breath of fresh air. In fact, in the past month or so I’ve been reading a lot more. My revision breaks are no longer filled with an our flitting from app to app to app but I find myself getting lost in a book for an hour. I absolutely adore it. I’ve also been reading before I go to bed and it is just bliss.
Milkman is a book that came to my attention, not just for the aesthetically pleasing cover but for the coverage that it has been getting. I volunteer at my local library (although I stopped this week 🙁 ) and they had a large batch of the book in, so I felt somewhat impelled to read it. Needless to say, I wish I’d done a bit of background reading on the book because the historical context made the nuances of the story a lot clearer. The novel is set in a community that resembles 70s Belfast, and thus is an account of the social landscape in Northern Ireland at the time. The sectarian tensions are clear, what religion you are is important, as is your name and what you do. The most harrowing thing for me, was that this book seemed so clearly a dystopian novel (I even tried to actively avoid getting a dystopia so there is a degree of irony in this) and yet when I read the historical context it was based on it stunned me how many elements of the book are, to an extent, true. Perhaps that makes it even more dystopian. A striking moment was when the protagonist, whose name remains unknown, is told to stare outside the window at the sunset in her French lesson after being repeatedly told that ‘le ciel est bleu’. The class are stunned, highlighting their inability to look beyond the confines of their own knowledge and understanding that what they know might not be the definite. Its not the easiest read but will leave you thinking about anything and everything.
A slightly more relaxing read was Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love. The sheer intimacy of the novel, from her university days to the present, is what makes the memoir so compelling. The way in which Alderton writes as if speaking to you, and the anecdotes are as though you’re meeting up with a friend from the past. The way in which the characters are shaped makes the book almost fictitious in the intricacy of their persona throughout the book, you follow her on a journey. I adored this book and probably more so because it was such a contrast from everything I’ve been reading lately.
After reading Angela Carter’s gothic short story book The Bloody Chamber last year, I can vouch for the fact I’m not too keen on reading short stories, albeit on a gothic literature vein. But this is Murakami and while the only book of his that I’ve read is Kafka On The Shore, it was more than enough for me to recommend his work to everyone and everyone. Women without Men, however, is a series of short stories that was permeated with a sadness around the pages. The lost loves, death, the relationships between the characters lead to simultaneously beautiful and strange stories, although I wouldn’t expect any less from him. I ended up reflecting so much on what matters in life that it could have been a little overwhelming. But then books don’t need to have happy endings to be a great story and indeed, these are great stories. The male narrators have a timelessness, as does Murakami as a writer.
In the period between taking the photos for this post I think I’ve listened to a few books (alas dystopian) and read another three (again, more wider reading for dystopia). Marge Piercy’s Woman on The Edge of Time is a book I’m still thinking about it, despite reading it a few weeks ago. The novel focuses on a woman called Connie who has been sent to a mental hospital despite not having a mental illness by her cousin’s boyfriend. The 1970s world is presented as dystopian as she effectively time travels to the 2197 to see what our utopia could be, in terms of what would have been ideal in the 70s that is. It made me question about how much power we have to change the future in our current position, and how peoples’ ideal ‘utopia’ will change with the problems facing the society at the time, although much like dystopia as a genre as well. I’ve just started Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep (aka Blake Runner) by Philip K. Dick as well.
I realise now that it doesn’t take half a day to write a blog post (okay maybe the fashion content) and that I need to do it as a break more often. I also know that I love talking about books and reading when you’re stressed is just the BEST because you have to focus on everything that you’re reading and not the world outside it. Right now, though, everything is pretty okay. I had a mare with my French mock, got it back and it wasn’t too bad, and the idea of revision is not so much repulsing me but is spurring me on to get into university. Self-care breaks are important and maybe I take too many (oops) but my mental health is streams ahead of what it was during GCSEs and I’m going to make sure it stays that way. Everything is okay.
I hope you enjoyed this little round up of books I’ve been currently reading, it has somewhat turned into my typical rambles as per, but then I haven’t written on here in a while and I miss it a lot. If you wanted more of these ‘currently reading’ posts then let me know! Because even at the height of exam season I will still find time to get lost in a book. What are you currently reading?
Lots of love, eleanor xx