Sarah to Zero Pt.2

What the fuck is Sarah to Zero? I love books and I buy a lot. Over the years I had accumulated hundreds. This was my overambitious intention to read them all. Every single one.

I started 2020 with the goal of reading 100 owned books. For some reason in about March (actually right before the pandemic became our every day) I did a small culling of my shelf and was left with around 185 books. I decided, fuck it, I’m gonna read them all.

And I did.

I somehow actually did it. I finished last year having read 206 books and with an empty shelf. (Just kidding, I already have 25 books on my shelf. HAHA! I received some lovely books for my birthday and Christmas that I didn’t include in my challenge and will calmly read throughout this year.) I still can’t quite believe that I completed the challenge.

How did I do it? Oh, well I did absolutely nothing else for a year. Simply put.

Here’s some things I learnt from my mad year reading 206 books:

– It’ll take a lot of time.

– I am not a quick reader. But I am a quick listener.

– Audiobooks are life.

– You become more equipped at knowing instantly if you’re going to enjoy a book/gel with the writing.

– Not every book is a winner. And that’s okay. Some are still worth reading.

– If your mouth is not open speaking to someone right that moment, then you should probably have an audiobook on.

– I buy a lot of books I think I should read. (Thanks, English Literature degree, you bastard.)

– I no longer read books I think I should read if I’m not feeling them.

– There is a lot of holes in my reading and my diversity of author, subject matter, even genre. I’m excited to explore more.

– Readathons will really get you there.

– You have very patient people in your life who love you and respect your hairbrained schemes. (Looking at you Danny, you the realest.)

– Damn, there is a lot of incredible books out there. And you have just a tiny sliver of them.

– Reckless determination can really take you places.

– Reading in the garden is really lovely. Reading in bed when you’re tired will not end well.

– You’ll watch way less Netflix/Youtube, but in a good way.

– There’s some pretty fun people on bookstagram and taking pictures of books is surprisingly addictive.

– You find links between books everywhere. I think it’s because you’re still living in a book world but catapulting yourself into another before your brain can adjust.

Would I do it again? Absofuckinglutely not.

I honestly had a really fun year and I’m glad I did the challenge and I’m still gobsmacked that I actually completed it. But one of my main motivations for doing the challenge to begin with was so that I could have a more chill reading experience moving forward. I had just accumulated a lot of books, from like ten years of buying more than I was reading. Whenever I looked at my shelf I felt excited but overwhelmed and when I purchased a new book I felt guilty and would put it aside to pick up an older one. Dumb, I know.

Goals and intentions going forward:

– Keep my physically owned tbr to under twenty books.

– Join some online book clubs and seek out new, fun readathons.

– Read diversely. Prioritse BIPOC and queer stories and authors.

– Take more time reviewing each book.

– Do buddy reads with my friends.

– Read more new authors. I used to read mainly backlist but I’m really excited by new authors recently.

– Read every memoir in existence. Or, you know, as close as you can get.

– Read every day in some capacity. Cos you love it.

I reckon that’s enough to be getting on with for now! I set my reading goal as one book this year and I’ve completed that. Feels really freeing to just see where the year goes now!

What are your reading goals for the year? Did having to stay home during the past year mean you read more than usual? Did you find any new favourites? Do you want to make reading a bigger priority for yourself this year? I hope so, cos reading is boss!

Happy reading!

Chinese Satellite – Phoebe Bridgers

Sarah To Zero

Hi!

You’re probably wondering what the heck ‘Sarah To Zero’ means.

We’ll get to that.

Today, I’m gonna share with you my reading goals for the year! But first I wanted to give you a little review and wrap up of last year.

Last year I had ten goals. TEN. Have I met me? I don’t know why I did that. Although, a lot of them were more just intentions and quite abstract. They weren’t massively rigid. So I think I actually did a good job of hitting them all a bit. I read almost every day. I didn’t allow seven consecutive weeks to pass without finishing a book. I read more women than men. So I’m feeling good about those and they’re habits I’d like to carry into the future.

My main goal was of course, the number of books I wanted to read. I set it at 50 again after a very busy December 2018 reading 17 books to meet my goal. I wanted to reach 50 more comfortably before I moved it up. Sensible, I thought.

WELL.

I only went and read 73 books! I was so bloody chuffed with myself, so it’s okay if you are too. Haha. I comfortably reached my goal in about September and after that I just wanted to see how further I could actually take it. I definitely went above my expectations.

But, you know, I can’t take all the credit. A big shout out has got to go out to my new best friends: audiobooks! For some reason I only started listening to these in the later section of the year. My office thankfully allows headphones and WOW the amount of books I’ve been able to listen to. I’ve really enjoyed the different medium as well, to be honest, and have no idea why I waited so long to try them!

So yeah, pretty solid year I think. I had a lot of fun.

But on to this year. The goals. So they’re ambitious. But simple.

They’re twofold.

I want to read 100 books.

Yeah, don’t question it. It’ll be fine. I already know I’ll be taking part in about three readathons; me and my mate are setting up a book club(!) (did you see my last post?); and I only discovered audiobooks in like October or something and that really boosted my book count so imagine an entire year of them! So I feel like I definitely have the tools to push my 73 up to 100. It’s just a matter of whether I use them.

I want to minimise my unread owned books as much as I possibly can.

This is Sarah To Zero. Get it? This is me reducing my owned unread books to zero. This has been something I’ve thought about for a long time, and actively tried to change over the last couple of years.

I love books.

I want to consume every word ever written. So it makes sense that I’ve bought several books over the years. It didn’t help that in university I lived two minutes away from an amazing second hand bookshop; this is the culprit for many of my books! Couple the buying with the fact I wasn’t reading more than twenty books a year and you are obviously left with disaster and disappointment.

But I want to change that.

And I like to be real with you guys. So I’ll tell you. I started twentytwenty with 214 owned but unread books.

Yikes.

Ideally, I think I’d like that number to be 20.

SO.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. But only I can control this number.

Therefore, making no books a top rule in my no buy for this year was paramount. I picked a 100 books to read because I like to push myself, and also because I think I can do it. But imagine getting to December 31st and only having 114 books left on my shelf. That floods me with relief, even though some of you are probably thinking, what the fuck Sarah, that’s still so many books!

For me, that’s not many.

And what’s funny is I’m desperate to read all the books on my shelf. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t have bought them. Or I would have donated them by now. It’s just a matter of slowly working through them. I want their knowledge.

My newfound love for audiobooks is also going to help me out here. I have an existing subscription to Scribd (which is therefore allowed to continue according to my no buy rules) and I’ve already discovered that a massive amount of my physical shelf is on here. Being able to listen to them in work is going to hugely impact my ability to crush through them. Last year I listened to a lot of books I don’t own, because the magic of discovery was so exciting. But this year I have a clear focus so listening to the books that I already physically own will really help me reduce my shelf. So yeah, Sarah To Zero. It’s happening.

And that’s it. Didn’t you see in my twentytwenty post that simplicity is my word of the year? I really mean it.

What are your reading goals for the year? I’d love to hear them! Have you set an unrealistic goal for yourself? Do you want to get back into reading after having a long break? Do you own too many books like me and have a similar challenge to reduce them? Let me know!

Since joining it a while ago, I’ve found bookstagram a really motivating place. It makes me want to read more. So if you’re struggling or needing some inspiration definitely check the world out. My bookstagram is @theunreliablereader 🙂

The Wolves (Act I and II) – Bon Iver

 

Endless Worlds Book Club

I’m starting a book club! Yeah, you heard. And I want you to join!

I’ve wanted to join a book club for a few years now but just never acted on it. Partly because I’m shy. Partly because I can’t be bothered with the ‘big personalities’ that are inevitable to any group. You know the ones. They love the sound of their own voice. And partly because I worried I wouldn’t always enjoy the book that was chosen and then it would feel like a chore.

BUT.

No more.

My friend Carina and I have decided, fuck it, the way to solve all these problems is to simply start our own! And then Endless Worlds was born.

So what do you need to know?

– We want the book club to be accessible to anyone who wants to join. Therefore we’ve decided to pick a book bi-monthly. That gives you lots of time to read the book without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. (For you book nerds who read several books a month, it gives you the time to also read all your personal tbr* as well!)

– We wanted to be able to invite friends who didn’t live locally so instead of meeting irl we’ll be having our discussions on our Instagram page. But if you want to sit sipping a glass of wine pretending you’re at a pub with everyone whilst you type away your thoughts then we’re all for it. I might be too! Tea is also acceptable.

– Our Instagram account is @endlessworldsbookclub and we cannot wait for you to see the fucking amazing logo our very talented friend Beth has so kindly designed for us! You can check out her designs at @designsby.bh on Instagram!

– We want you to bring anyone to the book club who you think would love it. A simple way to do this is to share your book around. As there’s two months to read each book, there’s definitely time for a few of you to read one copy. This will also make the club cheaper for you!

– It won’t just be the bi-monthly books. As we get going we’ll be introducing all sorts of extras for you to participate in! Spoiler: they’ll be super fun!

– What books are we reading? Jeez, could be anything. We’re keeping it very open. Our only criteria is that it’s boss.

– January/February’s book will be announced tomorrow!

And that’s about it.

I hope you’ll join and if you have any questions at all just let me know. 🙂

tbr* – for the non-book nerds means ‘to be read’

Ahay – Of Monsters and Men

End of the Year Book Tag

Can you believe we’re already well into September? The concept of time creeps me out. How can minutes and whole months tick away almost without notice? Spooky. Anyway, September is where we are so it’s time to see where I’m up to with my reading and reassess my reading goals for the end of the year. This book tag was created a couple of years ago on Youtube by Ariel Bissett. I thought I’d translate it to my blog cos like fuck I’m making a video.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

YES. About a hundred. I’m a famous ‘pick a book up, read two chapters, LOVE IT, then completely ignore it for the rest of my life’ type of reader. But to pinpoint a couple? The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin is one I purchased a couple of months ago and have heard nothing but good things about. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and think it’ll be a great wintery read. Pride by Tim Tate is one I’ve started last week (but famously already put down). I adore the movie Pride and think everyone should watch it. It restores your faith in humanity, recharges your activism and makes you bubble with solidarity. This book is sure to give the exact same feelings. It is set up as a book-long interview with many of the real people from the movie’s story. Lastly, Milkman by Anna Burns. Wow, has this book been hanging over me. I just haven’t been able to get into the reading style yet. But I can’t imagine it won tons of awards for no reason. So I just need to try again.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

What else could be said for this question other than Harry Potter? I mean, come on. But in all seriousness, I am wanting to get to Chamber of Secrets this month since reading Philosopher’s Stone in July. I’m working my way through the beautiful illustrated editions in preparation for the fourth book getting released next month!

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

I’m actually not usually one for new releases. As in, I don’t really research new books for the sole reason that I despise hardbacks. So I find it pointless getting hyped for a book that I’m not gonna be able to buy for eight months or so. I find books on the grapevine just as they’re coming out in paperback! That being said, the series I’m listening to on Audible right now (Keeper of the Lost Cities) is bringing out its eighth book this year! That’s Legacy by Shannon Messenger. I’ve been listening to one a month so will get to that one right on time. Another book I’m excited for is The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which is actually out today! I never dreamed this book would have a sequel so I’m pumped for that (in eight months).

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, because I’m insane but have just been staring at this book on my unread shelf for years now. A book shouldn’t intimidate you. Right? More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin because, although these books remind a lot of summer, I just cannot wait any longer to see what happens with all these characters! Just Kids by Patti Smith has been sat half-read on my shelf for too long now. Also, there’s just something about New York in the autumn.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I waited for this book alllllll year (see my earlier comment about hardbacks). All I’ve heard is amazing things about this novel so I just had to read it. Now I finally have it I’m almost too scared to read it because I’ve built it up so much in my head. I’m really excited to read it though! The book is Motherhood by Sheila Heti.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2020?

I have. Have you met me? I’m an obsessive planner. My project is called Sarah to Zero. That’s all you’re getting for now. I’ll give you more details in January!

Called Out In The Dark (Reworked) – Snow Patrol

August/NEWTs Readathon Wrap Up

Guys, I did it! I read my nine books for the NEWTs readathon! I’m now a qualified Curse Breaker if someone wants to hire me! Haha, in all seriousness though, I surprised myself there. I can be quite the procrastinator and nineteen days into the month I had only read one book. But I think I’m just so stubborn when it comes to finishing a book challenge (and I really can’t do anything in life without an imminent deadline that I’ll almost certainly miss) that with ten days left of the readathon I just read like hell and did it! And some great books I read too:

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan

A YA contemporary that I couldn’t stop reading. On my latest trip to Gay’s the Word in London, I saw this book in three separate sections of the shop! How could I say no? My interest was fully piqued. Moved into action by the deaths of numerous openly gay people in Bangladesh, Khan has fictionalised an American Bangladeshi coming out story. It’s heartbreaking and well as heartwarming. Learning about cultures different from your own is always fascinating and I loved how the simple parts of a culture were also present: food and clothes etc. Whilst I thought the end was a breakneck change from the start, I still enjoyed the journey.

The Easter Rising: A Guide To Dublin In 1916 – Conor Kostick, Lorcan Collins

A book that I stole from my dad and has been on my shelf for years! It’s no secret that I love Ireland. If you didn’t know that about me then, hi my name’s Sarah and I most definitely prefer my Irish heritage to my British. I traveled to Dublin in 2016 on one of our many trips to the capital city. This one was pretty special though. We went at Easter, an April that marked 100 years since the Easter Rising. The rebel’s goal? To demand an Irish Republic separate from the British, in simple terms: freedom. This book takes you on a tour of Dublin through all the significant buildings and landmarks of the Rising. It also introduces you to all the keep players. Very informative and has lovely little human anecdotes to compliment the facts. Also, the writers curate an actual walking tour in Dublin if you’re ever there!

The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One – Amanda Lovelace

The last book in this poetry series and I’m honestly gutted. These collections have been amazing and are books I’ll keep coming to again and again. They are not for the faint-hearted. But if you want to get uncomfortable and become a better ally or friend or if you want to work through your own demons then read this. It’s quite honestly perfect. Poems will leave you hollow inside whilst others will steal a smile from your lips. To do both in consecutive pages is a real talent.

The Testament of Mary – Colm Tóibín

I love a good recommendation from a friend. Occasionally they can come with a lot of pressure because what if you don’t like it? Is the friendship over? Fortunately, I won’t find out today as I loved this book. It takes a look at Mary’s life after the crucifixion of Jesus. And damn, this Mary is cool, why does nobody talk about her? She’s strong willed but quietly so. She’s empty after the loss of her family. However she doesn’t believe her son did these miraculous things so she’s finding it very hard to consider him the messiah. Mad right? Just read it.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

I was supposed to read this book in uni. I wish I had. A lot of the books I chose to read this month had heavy themes of religion. Which is odd as I am an atheist. However, each is uniquely critical of certain aspects of religion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually anti-religion. If it works for you that’s cool. But what these books I’ve read show is how people twist the definition of god with power. They’re not a synonym; at least they shouldn’t be. People abuse the bible and what they think is a good way to live simply so they can have power. In this particular book we’re focusing a lot on homosexuality. Knowing it’s a semi-autobiographical text wounded me a little. I’ll simply never be able to understand why people must try to oppress other people’s right to be authentically themselves.

Women Talking – Miriam Toews

For two years in a Mennonite colony, hundreds of women were drugged and attacked in the night. They were told they were being violated by demons who had come to punish them for their sins. In actual fact they were being raped by a group of men from the colony. This is a real thing that happened. This book is a fictionalised tale of the women’s response and how they fought for their freedom back. It was narrated really interestingly through the minutes of a meeting of eight women from two families. Their friendships and rivalries will restore your faith in the human spirit.

After Dark – Haruki Murakami

I loved this book. I’m not sure it’s going to be for everyone. If you love heavily plotted books with explicit, explained endings then don’t read this. If you like something just a bit bizarre but fascinating then read it. Set in a Japanese city, it explores what happens on the streets when the last train ends and before the first one begins. I think I just really felt affinity with the night people because I’ve always been a night person. I can pin point the moment when I was fourteen and messaging a boy I liked on msn; since then I’ve been staying up past four am. The night is quiet and full of magic. I don’t know, I just liked it.

Neverseen – Shannon Messenger

I’m really getting into this series and I love seeing the characters grow as the books go on. The blossoming moments of friendship are some of my favourite parts of the novel. I don’t read many series so it’s hard to tell you anything about this that isn’t a spoiler (this is the fourth book to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series). However, I enjoyed the change of location for this book as well as the new characters. And that’s all I’ll say..

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia Puigcerver, Francesc Miralles

A solid 3.5 book for me I think. I found it very slow to get into, often getting overwhelmed with references to other works instead of making its own point. I enjoyed the parts about finding your ikigai or your passion/reason for existing/etc., and it was quite inspiring and renewed my own goals for my own life. But ultimately the endless focus on being 100 years old put me off. Getting to that age is amazing but it’s not what makes a happy life and I don’t think ‘being old’ is what we should be aiming for. Life is fleeting and we don’t know when it’s gonna end so I’d say don’t even plan for your golden years, just live the ones you have right now.

And that’s it! I’m moving into September with five books left on my yearly Goodreads challenge! Let’s go 📚

Under A Dome – Of Monsters And Men

June/July Wrap Up

Bit late on the uptake here, what’s new. I apologise. Haven’t written much recently. Easing in with a wrap up. You might be wondering where June’s wrap up even was? There wasn’t one. I read one book in the entire month of June. Oops. Let’s start with that one:

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

I actually really enjoyed this book. Fisher has a way of bringing to life the most absurd anecdotes with a biting self-deprecation. Her life is one hundred percent different than mine but I think that’s part of the fun. Getting a look into this supposedly glamorous Hollywood landscape was cool.

In July, I had a slow start but made it up by reading seven (YEAH, SEVEN) books in the last week as part of The Reading Rush. I also got myself a three month cheaper membership to Audible and have become an audiobook fanatic. Here’s the eleven books I got through in July! (We’ll keep it short.)

Keeper of the Lost Cities – Shannon Messenger

Recommended by Regan at Peruse Project, I’ve started listening to this series through audible. The sense of community and adventure if excellent so far. Can’t wait to keep going.

From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan

Some parts of this I loved and some parts I didn’t. When I read the back of this book it sounded like three very different people where going to find their words collide. If that happens in the last ten pages I don’t think it counts. More like three short stories where I hated one.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One – Amanda Lovelace

The second collection I’ve read my Lovelace and again it ripped me apart, blew me away and comforted my soul. Go and red her poetry. RIGHT NOW.

Exile – Shannon Messenger

Second audiobook in the series, love Keefe.

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

A reread from uni. If you haven’t read this, please do immediately. It’s fast-paced, sarcastic and relentless. It’s a San Franciscan soap opera with heavy LGBTQ themes, what more do you need to know?

If Cats Disappeared From The World – Genki Kawamura

A charming little story about discovering what is important to you at the end of your life. Touches on grief in a realistic way and well as moments of loneliness.

Felicity – Mary Oliver

Some love poetry by Oliver and I was there for it. Give it a read, not much more to say!

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl

Quick little read to push my readathon numbers up! Always meant to read it. Enjoyed it. Liked how his stories actually cover serious topics like neglect and mild emotional abuse.

Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown

Had this lesbian classic on my tbr for years. Whilst it is that, it’s so much more. There’s harrowing moments of sexism, poverty, homophobia. Not a light book but manages to make you laugh all the same.

Everblaze – Shannon Messenger

Third audiobook in the series, think they’re getting even better!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J K Rowling

Nothing realllly needs to be said about this one other than I actually finally got round to reading my illustrated edition. The artwork is honestly lovely and adds that little extra to the story. Got me feeling so Fall as well! Okay, turns out I had lots to say about that one!

Phew, we got there eventually. Was quite nice to have a super productive month after such a shocking June. June was my downfall last year and I just didn’t read anything for months after that so I was worried history was repeating itself! I think I’ve managed to push through now and will be spending the last few days of August cramming in my book for the NEWTs Readathon!

Happy Reading!

Vulture, Vulture – Of Monsters and Men

 

The NEWTs Readathon

So I’m officially done with the Reading Rush for this year! I did pretty well, I hit my goals. I’ll do a full wrap up next week of the books I got through. But today I want to talk about readathons. This was not the first readathon I’ve ever been a part of but I would say it was my first successful one! I really enjoyed the motivation it gave me to pick up a book. Every chance I got (breaks in work, waiting for my tea to cook, when I’d normally binge Netflix) I had a book in my hand. The sheer quantity of extra minutes I had a book in front of me lead to of course, inevitably, more pages read.

I was in a bit of a reading rut in June and I was worried I’d spend four months reading nothing. This is exactly what I did last year so it was a real worry! Therefore, for me, the readathon came at the perfect time. The momentum I felt immediately after those seven days was electric and I want to keep it going. I’m still fourteen books off my target for the year but because of last week’s boost I’m now aiming to not just achieve that goal but smash past it.

Serendipitously, I stumbled across a video on YouTube. It was a girl I’ve never seen before talking about a readathon her friend started last year. It’s called the NEWTs Readathon. Yes, it’s Harry Potter themed. Do you even need anymore information or shall we all just sign up now? So this readathon is more complicated than any I’ve heard before but the detail is truly astounding. The amount of time and creativity put into this challenge and community is truly excellent.

So what do you need to know? Lemme try and simplify this.

– G created it over on her YouTube channel Book Roast.

– It’s the second part in a two-part yearly readathon.

– The first part was back in April and was called the OWLs Readathon.

– You don’t need to have done that to take part in the NEWTs. Just jump in.

– If you did the OWLs you will have picked subjects to ‘take’ and then ‘sit exams for’.

– The exams are simply a book prompt. One book per prompt. The more books you read the higher your grades end up being in the subject.

– For example, if I did prompt 1 in Charms I would have received an A (for Acceptable). However, if I’d done prompts 1-3 I would have received an O (for Outstanding). There’s also E in the middle (for Exceeds Expectations). Get it? Well neither did I at this point. Let’s confuse you more!

– So, journeying through to August, we’ve arrived at the NEWTs. It’s a MONTH LONG readathon. I know, how amazing.

– Have a look at the magical careers PDF and choose your career! Each career will tell you the NEWT subjects you need to acquire.

– If you sat OWLs you now use your ‘grades’ to see if you have good enough scores to progress to the NEWT level. If you don’t, I guess you need to choose a new career. However, this is also for fun so do it anyway!

– If, like me, you haven’t completed the OWLs readathon, then it’s a bloody free-for-all isn’t it!

– I’ve literally just chosen my career and will now take the NEWT subjects it requires, to the grade it requires.

Sooooo, did you follow that? I hope so. I definitely could be doing it wrong. But that’s my interpretation. I’ll leave the videos down below for you and you can try and decipher it for yourself!

Either way, I think it sounds super unique and interesting. I love that it’s a month because it’s still a big challenge but it’s more manageable that last week. The Reading Rush is fun because it’s a very concentrated, intense week. But like, I also enjoy watching movies, vegging in the evening after a long day at work, seeing other humans and like, you know, having time to sleep etc. But a month? Almost too easy.

I’ve chosen Curse Breaker. I’m required to read a total of nine books for the month (which is still a lot more than my normal monthly total, so it’s not like actually easy. I was joking before). I’ve decided to not set a TBR this time (I know, gasp!) as I’m very much a mood reader. I’ve got a list of my prompts though and each time I finish a book I’ll move on with the next one! Here’s my prompts as an example for you:

O in Ancient Runes

– book recommended by a friend

– book written in the past tense

– book that has been on your tbr for ages

O in Arithmancy

– book that ends on an even page number

– a standalone

– book that’s longer than 350 pages

E in Defence Against the Dark Arts

– book that’s black under the dust jacket

– first book that you remember just now from your tbr

A in Charms

– a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

And there you have it! Now it’s your turn.

NEWTs Explanation Video: https://youtu.be/Rq7vFHcngYs

Book Roast’s NEWTs TBR Video:

Happy NEWTs everyone!

Harry Potter Inspired ASMR – Hogwarts Library (This is an ASMR YouTube Channel I found a few years ago. The videos are incredibly relaxing and are perfect background noise for your hours of reading!)

Reading Rush TBR

So it’s that time of year again: The Booktubeathon! The Reading Rush! That’s right, this year Ariel has teamed up with Raeleen and rebranded the readathon to include all reading social media communities. There is a new website with forums to engage in and badges to win. I’ll also be going to the Liverpool Read In at 6pm on the 25th if anyone local wants to join. It’s at the Waterstones café and the idea is to meet other readers and just have a nice hang out.

As always, there is seven book challenges. You can pick one book to cover each challenge or one to cover several; what you do with the challenges is totally up to you! Usually the seventh challenge is to read seven books but they’ve decided to put that as a bonus eighth challenge this year to alleviate some of the pressure people used to feel. Fair enough, I’m still going to try for it cos I’m mad. So what I’ve decided to do is pick three main books that cover all seven challenges for me. I’ll read these first. I’ve then selected an addition four (which also tick off at least one challenge) that I’ll move on to if I finish those first three. If I manage to read all seven books I’ll have covered all seven main challenges and then the bonus eighth challenge. However, say I only read 5 books (which is already a lot, I know) I’ll still have covered all seven challenges already. Make sense? Simple? Not a clue what I’m talking about? Okay, well here’s the challenges and then I’ll tell you my tbr and hopefully it’ll make more sense!

The Challenges

1. Read a book with purple on the cover.

2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time.

3. Read a book you meant to read last year.

4. Read an author’s first book.

5. Read a book with a non-human main character.

6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title.

7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.

My TBR

(Challenges covered in brackets).

The Main Three

Everblaze – Shannon Messenger (1,5,2)

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin (7,4,3)

The Bricks That Built The Houses – Kate Tempest (1,4,6)

The Bonus Four

Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown (4)

Felicity – Mary Oliver (2)

The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston (3)

If Cats Disappeared From The World – Genki Kawamura (6)

Danny’s TBR

The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger (3,4,6)

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl (1,2)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams (5,6,7)

Carrie – Stephen King (4,7)

And that’s it! Are you doing the Reading Rush? What’s your TBR?

Happy Reading!

Nintendo Game – Alessia Cara

 

Hay Festival + Book Haul

At the end of May, we drove down to Hay-on-Wye – a quaint market town on the Welsh/English border that is notable for its bookshops. Why, I hear you ask? Cos, for their less than two thousand inhabitants, there is over twenty bookshops! Often crowned ‘the town of books’, it’s been on my list for forever. We picked a nice weekend in May to go (in hopes of sun, lol jk) as we decided to do a combination trip of endless book perusing with intervals of camping and hiking in Brecon Beacons National Park. The week I planned to go just happened to also be the world renowned Hay Literary Festival. Serendipity! We decided to risk the crowds, invited my dad who loves a book, and headed down.

The festival itself was really cool. The festival bookshop, don’t even get me started, huge. It’s free for anyone to enter the site and then you just buy tickets for individual events. We decided to see a Q&A with Anna Burns, the award-winning author of Milkman. She had such a quirky, amusing manner and read her book extracts with such animation it actually really helped me understand the novel’s tone. We also saw Stephen Fry. He was due to read a couple of extracts from his books Mythos and Heroes but instead decided to do a reading from the third book he is currently writing in the series, unbeknownst to his publishers! The real treat to that event was the outstanding illustrator Chris Riddell was there live-illustrating the session! He was very impressive and hilarious.

On another day, we went for a walk at Henrhyd Falls which was a bit treacherous from the recent rain but completely picturesque and tranquil. Easily satisfied my hiking fix. Also visited the town of Brecon which was quiet and cute. Had a lovely vegan daal in an indie coffee shop there!

Hay, the town, was just lovely. It was everything you want from a small market town. It had a couple of delicious food places with great veggie options, and more importantly it had a cosy little pub, The Blue Boar, that became our local for the weekend. The atmosphere was electric with booklovers visiting from far and wide. But enough of all that, on to the bookshops!

They were everything I hoped and more.

We grabbed a little map of the book tour that most shops carry and got on our way. The second we saw a book in the display window we were in there. There was such a variety of genres, I was in heaven. There was an entire poetry shop where I wanted to purchase every single book. There was a bookshop called Murder and Mayhem which, you guessed it, was entirely crime-based. There was a bookshop with all sorts of old editions of my favourite modern classics. I found an edition of 1984 that was truly magical to find. There, simply, was too many to mention. My favourite booksellers included Addyman Books (and their Annexe), Richard Booth’s Bookshop, The Poetry Bookshop and Green Ink Booksellers.

I completely shattered my 2019 book buying system cos I just could not contain myself. I came home with fourteen books.. My five gifts from Danny (that I won from reading the entire Mistborn Trilogy in April) and nine from myself! Oops. Here’s a quick book haul, one line about each though or we’ll be here forever, kids!

Animal – Sara Pascoe

A recommendation from my mate. Quite scientific so far, as well as funny.

Felicity – Mary Oliver

Read Blue Horses and needed to devour more Oliver, especially a love poem collection!

#MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology – Ed. Deborah Alma

Speaks for itself: brave, boss women who I’d like to learn from.

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

A very self-depricating, endearing memoir.

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Quoted it in my dissertation, liberally. Yet to read it.

Emma – Jane Austen

The last to complete my Austen’s. Needed the old black Penguin Classics editions as a rule.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

An edition that’s very special to me, to match some of my mums favourite books from her collection.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Just have been meaning to read it. We all know the story.

The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

Ditto. Also had a boss cover.

The Sonnets – William Shakespeare

Wanted for ages, found in an edition I enjoy. (Running theme?)

Peril At End House – Agatha Christie

Continuing my Christie journey with another Poirot!

After Dark – Haruki Murakami

Constantly hear about Murakami and haven’t read him! This one sounds mysterious and mad.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

When purchased was Our Shared Shelf’s pick of the month.

Silence – Erling Kagge

A little cute one Danny picked up that I know nothing about. Honing mindfulness skills I think!

All in all, a fabulous weekend. Cannot recommend Hay enough. Will be going back ASAP.

Come Alive – The Greatest Showman Soundtrack (Me and Danny had this album playing in the car all weekend. Also books make me come alive so that’s a nice little coincidence isn’t it?)

May Wrap Up

So it’s been a hot minute there. Sorry, I don’t want to force posts when they’re not coming cos I want this to be fun! But here we are back again with another book wrap up! Who doesn’t love talking about books? Clearly I love it.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars – Kai Cheng Thom

Like nothing I’ve ever read before. I heard of this book a couple of months ago from Emma Watson’s book club, Our Shared Shelf. When I saw it on the shelf in Gay’s The Word I knew it must be mine. I loved the fantasy and magical realism elements. The fierce ties of sisterhood were heart-warming to read. I enjoyed having the chance to read a trans-themed book from a trans author, something we’re still very much missing in the book world. Also, those bees? Love those bees. Would definitely recommend.

Book Love – Debbie Tung

This book is perfection. Read it. She has a way of drawing and expressing exactly how I feel about almost everything in life! I loved her first book about being an introvert in an extroverted world although I understand how that may not have landed if you are in fact extrovert. It’s not insulting, you might just not understand the exhaustion you feel when you get home from being ‘social’. But fear not. If you’re reading this post I assume you like books. This new book is completely devoted to books! (I’d say the name is pretty apt then.) The illustrations are beautiful and I love their greyscale colouring.

We Are Okay – Nina LaCour

I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time. I thought it was a heart-warming look at grief and loneliness and finding yourself. I thought the plot built up a little too much to uncover something a little mediocre but aside from that I enjoyed it. I didn’t need a ‘big reveal’ to enjoy the book. I thought it being a close and sometimes painful examination of the rubble of someone’s life was amazing enough. It was nice to see a lesbian relationship in a ya as well as a wonderful story of friendship and chosen family. A small thing, but I found the stark contrast of weather in the present and flashbacks really interesting. Weather definitely links to emotion there!

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference – Greta Thunberg

A lovely gathering of Greta Thunberg’s public addresses to date. I enjoyed reading them as opposed to hearing them because you can really appreciate how cleverly crafted her speeches are. Got a little repetitive but that’s the fault of the publisher, not her. Perfect gift for a young, budding activist in your life.

A Happy Death – Albert Camus

As always, Camus explores some excellent concepts. The idea of happiness; how you achieve it; can you find it if you’re looking for it? Can you die a happy death?Personally, I preferred his later, similar work, the much more well-known The Outsider. I did find a lot to like (Zagreus, his experience of travelling alone, the heat of Algiers) although I occasionally found some of these characters a little nauseating, possibly that was the point. Either way, I think the overall ability to make me think deeply is what will keep me coming back to Camus.

The Other Side – The Greatest Showman