Grief Is the Thing With Feathers - Max Porter

There’s a feather on my pillow. 

Pillows are made of feathers, go to sleep.

It’s a big, black feather. 

Come and sleep in my bed. 

There’s a feather on your pillow too. 

Let’s leave the feathers where they are and sleep on the floor.

From what I can gather, Porter’s novella is based on the work of Ted Hughes. Crow: from the Life and Songs of the Crow is Hughe’s second and most ambitious phase of work, where he stated to look at “mythical and narrative sequences”. This work vaguely follows the life of a crow from it’s creation by God, through a nightmare, as it tries to make God’s creations “better” or more successful. Additionally it makes its way around the world in search of a female creator and often aids people. This is what Porter seems to be showing. 

This novella doesn’t seem to fit in either a fiction, non fiction, or poetry form, but it seems to be all encompassing. The story follows a family of three, two young boys and their father after their mother dies. They are joined by a crow who acts as a Mary Poppins-esque counsellor, threatening to stay until he is no longer needed. This novel explores how people experience grief and the many coping mechanisms people have to get through the darkness that is the death of a loved one. 

What I find is absolutely stunning about this novel, is it’s pace. I read this book in 45 minutes and throughout there was humour and truth, as well as absolute confusion. The switch between each of the three characters “Dad”, “Boys” and “Crow” means that the novel reads really quickly. There are one line “chapters” and the average is only about a page for each point of view. I also love the confusion of which child is talking. They’re memories mix and become one and you’re never aware of their names so it could just be anyone. 

This ambiguity also carries through to their mother. We don’t ever hear how she dies specifically which I think is part of the beauty of this novel. This reads as just an exploration of unspecified grief which makes it so relatable to anyone who’s experienced the emotion. And it also gives a normality to the feeling of grief. Everyone, no matter the cause of death, is allowed to grieve the one they’ve lost. There’s no level of severity, beneath which you’re not allowed to grieve. That would be silly. This book gives way for emotion to be freely experienced, explored through a majority male cast of characters. This is so important, especially in our current world, as I feel men are often expected not to show emotion. 

The crow in itself is interesting to me. The way in which Porter has written the crow is really intriguing as many of the early chapters don’t seem to make much sense on a first reading. Many of his chapters read like prose poetry and it’s only when you get to the end of the chapter that you understand what has been spoken about. For example, this is often his nightmare situations or his bad dreams, as well as his actions and stories from his past. I feel like I and many other readers, would gain more from a second reading of this novella. It takes a little while to sink in and even longer to really take in the severity and beauty of what Porter is trying to portray. Additionally, I feel like I maybe need to comprehend the time scale a little better as currently I believe that it skips forward in the second part due to the shift in the language of the boys, but then it shifts back to the innocent childlike language towards the end. 

Overall I think that Porter has written a really great novella with a hard hitting message, masked in humour and intrigue, that introduces a new age to the idea of the Crow, Ted Hughes and the freedom of emotion. This book is surely like nothing I’ve read before and I’m not sure I’m likely to read anything like it again for a long time. 

Read more on this novella from Max Porter's Guardian interview here!

Total pages - 114
Total read time - 45 minutes
Rating /10 - 7

Recommend - Yes

Fellside - M.R. Carey

It’s a strange thing to wake up not knowing who you are. 

Jess Moulson - not thinking of herself by that name or any other - found herself lying in white sheets in a white room, overwhelmed by memories of predominantly red and yellow and orange. The colours merging and calving endlessly, out of control, billowing heat at her like she’d opened an over door too quickly and caught the full blast. 
Someone had just been talking to her with some urgency. She remembered the voices, low but coming from right up against her face. 

Her face… now she thought about it, her face felt very strange. She tried to ask one of the women in which who came and went why this way, but she couldn’t open her mouth very far, and when she did, she wasn’t able to make anything happen beyond a few clicks and rasping sounds which hurt her in coming out. 

M.R Carey has always been an author that I’ll recommend to anyone. His debut “The Girl With All the Gifts” is one of my favourite books. I’m not sure if Fellside will join that list just yet, but it’s definitely another incredibly written literary journey from Carey. It just reminded me of why I love his writing style. With an array of characters, intriguing dialogue and a plot that draws you in this book is definitely one to read. 

Fellside is a maximum security prison for women on the Yorkshire moors. And it’s definitely not the sort of place you’d want to end up. But for Jess there’s not really much of a choice as after she’s found guilty she could be spending the rest of her life on Goodall. And as she starts her sentence, she’s begins to hear voices,  eventually even seeing, the ghost of a little boy. 

Now this book is far more than something paranormal. I know that I pick up books and see ghost and think “oh god maybe not” and put it back. However the way that Carey uses this ghost like figure is incredibly interesting. There’s a whole lore behind this “other world” that Carey has created, where in you can pass into people’s dreams and affect them, but only when they’re asleep. When they’re awake they are guarded by individual towers. It’s also hard for this ghostly character to appear during daylight hours. I really like the integration of this other character who’s not even sure if they’re remembering things correctly. It adds a really nice tension as Jess seems to hold onto everything this ghost says, whilst as a reader you are often skeptical because you’re not entirely sure they know what they’re saying themselves. 

Jess’ character is a little like this throughout. She thinks she knows something, but doesn’t quite. At the beginning of the novel she is incredibly naive and her actions could be seen as childish. However as the novel progresses we see Jess start to develop more. She becomes knowledgable and strong willed, aware of the consequences of her actions. This is a nice contrast to someone like Harriet Grace, the inmate who essentially runs Goodall. She’s a very strong character, with an ability to manipulate others. She runs the drug company in this cell block and spends most of the novel trying to spread out into another block. Yet it is possible to say that Grace’s character is developed from bullying she experienced as a child, something we learn through another inmate, Shannon McBride. 

Yet it isn’t just a cast of females in this novel. Dennis Devlin is a guard, whilst also being on Grace’s payroll. The two of them have a strange relationship, almost to where Grace has him perfectly manipulated. It is mostly conjugal, with Grace switching straight back to business afterwards, and it is possible to see that Grace takes advantage of Devlin’s state of mind to manipulate him into doing what she wishes. But he’s also a strong character in his own way. He is authoritative and demands respect, perhaps why the inmates refer to him as the Devil. Yet if you take his addiction to pethidine, you could say he is sup riding weak, as well as reliant, on Dr Salazar, or Sally as he’s known. 

Sally was on of my favourite characters to read. By a long shot. He seems weak and miserable through quite a lot, yet with a drive to help people that is infectious. His relationship with Devlin is a supplier to a junkie, yet the latter is in control. Devlin abuses Sally throughout the book and treats him like he’s nothing, which seems like a bad thing to do to the person who’s delivering you drugs. Towards the end of the novel he is hell bent on revenge, something that I love in novels with a character as weak and beaten down as Dr Salazar. 

Carey’s writing style once again is fun and full of description that brings the story to life. Fellside is not The Girl With All the Gifts, but it is another great stand alone novel. In the time of the trilogy or the series, to have a good quality stand alone is something that is quite novel, pun intended. His ability to make me visualise something that I have never and probably will never experience is remarkable. I love being able to be transported to another world through literature and whilst this novel can be said to be a contemporary thriller, Fellside in itself is a whole other world, full of deceit, death and drug dealing. These intricate sub plots are vital to the story as every individual inmate has a story to tell, and I think it really fleshes out Goodall block as a whole to find out these stories. The alternating of character focus is seamless and interesting, with character chapters being left without a conclusion, only to be picked up on later. I don’t even feel like this is at all confusing as each character brings something new to a larger story which collides at the end of the novel. The ending of this novel as well… Just superb.

I know a lot of people have complained about this novel feeling slow and not having much to offer, but I’d say push through. I read this during a reading slump and it did take me much longer than anticipated. But I read the last 200 pages in about 3 hours which just proves that the ending picks up massively from the beginning. The beginning is necessary to set up Jess’ case. The story relies on the reader knowing what Jess knows, as well as having their own suspicions. Every reader will have their own thoughts about the ghost, and her trial, which I think makes this novel such an exciting one to share with people. Plus, I’m always recommending Carey’s books, left right and centre.

Total pages - 496
Total read time -  untimed
Rating /10 - 8

Recommend - Yes for those who need a fix after Orange is the New Black finished

Monsters of Men - Patrick Ness

I would love to include a piece from this book to start off this blog post because it is just so beautifully written. Unfortunately, this book is the final instalment in the Chaos Walking Trilogy and to those who haven’t read it yet, that could give you HUGE spoilers. The same could be said for some of this blog post. Just fair warning ahead of time. 

So once again, Patrick Ness has lured me into this world of New Prentisstown and his use of language and narrative are just stunning. The addition of the map at the beginning of the novel gives a really good sense of space that you may not have had in the first two books and this is just so incredibly exciting to me. Mostly because the events of this book follow the war that’s been instigated in book 2 The Ask and the Answer. Seeing the space in which this takes place is really important to get a sense of the devastation that Ness explores through the act of war. We get really clear descriptions about people’s movements and their fighting as well as how weaponry works etc. I love this level of detail because it allows me to get a really good sense of the destruction caused my the people within this world. 

Once again we are following Todd and Viola. I love both of these character. They are messy and unpredictable and they make for really lovely reading. With Todd there is this language barrier, where he is unable to read, and this lack of education shows in the way he’s narrated. The first person allows for Ness to spell words incorrectly like “exploshun” because that is how Todd sounds it out in his head. There is a part of this book however where this changes slightly, and he’s finally able to read his mother’s diary for the first time. This is such a turning point for him because he slowly learns how to read and we as a reader see that in the physical writing on the page. 

Viola is just a stunning character to read. I find her to be a strong female character, even in this book wherein she becomes rather ill for a large part. I think that whilst she has a secondary love interest this is not her priority. She is very world centred and knows what she must do to save the world she currently inhabits, or at least save it for Todd. There is a lot of growing up for Viola to do in this book and we see some of her adult influences as well as her relationship with Todd develop throughout the novel and I think that it’s great to see someone who’s not concerned about looks or primarily in her love interest, but in doing what’s right. People could easily disagree and say she just cares about Todd but I think that it’s much bigger than that. 

In addition to these two there is a third voice that joins the narrative of this story. This is from the other side of the battle, allowing us to see what they are planning without the other one knowing and I found this to be a little distracting. The language is convoluted and there are no singular people just groups of people all referenced in particular ways and this confused me slightly to begin with. However towards the end of the novel, the short interjections just increased the tension and really made the story very enjoyable. 

And of course, we still have the terrifying Mayor Prentiss. I’m constantly in awe of how Ness can make me feel so bloody sorry for a villain. He’ll make him seem redeemable, a phrase we keep coming back to throughout the novel, and he seems almost like a good guy and someone who you could root for. As an aspiring author I feel myself drawn to these characters and then suddenly he’ll snap and I’ll come back to the sense of “actually wait he’s the bad guy”. And boy is he a bad guy in this novel. Holy smokes there hasn’t been a book I’ve sworn at so loudly in a long time. Several moments in this had be angrier than I’ve ever been at a character in a book if only for his actions involving Todd. He’s such a good villain because Ness makes you start to care about him, forgetting all of his misdeeds and wanting to redeem him (there’s that word again). You want to feel sorry for him at times but you just can’t because you’re aware of his shortfalls. It’s such a wonderful character formulae. 

This book is really about the choices made in war, for better or worse, for the people or for an individual, and about how those choices are realised. It’s about power struggles and surviving a war zone as well as having the longing for a companion throughout. Many of the characters are seeking just someone to care for and really that is all that they really require. This book made me laugh but mostly it made me cry. It is not for the faint of heart. When I say cry, I mean full on ugly sobbing into my pillows at 11pm on a work night, texting my boyfriend in full capitals

(word for word text I sent by the way).

 It is however stunning and poetic and shows just how dangerous an excess of knowledge can be. 

Total pages - 603
Total read time -  untimed
Rating /10 - 9/9.5


Metropolitan Vol. 1 and 2 - Various Authors

This is an extremely exciting blog post for me to write as I present to you my university’s anthologies. Started late last year, Metropolitan started as a way for the third year and graduate students to show their work and have a published piece of work to show for the end of their degree. This also had an online journal to go with it, featuring interviews and such from the authors and others. This unfortunately hasn’t been updated in some time, but the second volume of Metropolitan was launched on Monday 11th July. This one was a whole lot more special to me though. 

Metropolitan Vol. 2 was used as part of the module for third year students in their module “Professional Practise in the Creative Arts”. They were given anonymous submissions from all years and were allowed to choose and debate for the ones they wanted to go into the anthology. The reason this is so special to me is that two of my original poems have found themselves in this volume. At the end of my first year I never expected that I could be published, let alone chosen for my work by my peers and the staff, who are also incredibly talented authors themselves. 

Also aren't these covers just gorgeous

What I wanted to do was give you a taste of what Metropolitan is about through this post. Split into the two volumes, I’d like to talk to you about some of my favourite pieces.

Volume 1

Gwefus Melys Glwyfus - Denn Yearwood

It’s true you can’t go far in an anthology produced by a welsh university and not come across a great welsh voice. Yearwood’s “Sweet Bruised Lips” follows Anwen and Rhianne who are at a bar, and Rhianne leaves to get another drink from the bar. She’s joined by Gwydion Griffiths, a writer, keen on keeping her company. This story is full of tension and power shifts as well as the relationship between mother and daughter and history repeating itself. It’s definitely got one of the best twists to a story that I probably should’ve noticed before hand, but definitely didn’t. 

Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopaedia - Imogen Cownie

Cownie's piece follows the styling of China Mieville’s piece of the same name. I am reluctant to call this a poem but then again I’m reluctant to call it fiction. It is about Hyperencephalopathy or Overload. Hyper intensive encephalopathy is described as “headaches, convulsions and coma that occur in the course of malignant hypertension”  This hypertension is caused by high blood pressure. However in Cownie’s piece she’s used Hyperencephalopathy in relation to a 28 year old South Korean who died after playing Final Fantasy for fifty hours straight. I genuinely thought this was real to begin with, but on going to check her sources, they’re all coming from 2017. Good job Cownie for tricking me like this. It’s such an informative piece on something incredibly fictional. 

An extract from In My Hand - Kirsty James

The first of the pieces to well me up on the coach home from Cardiff. In this piece, our protagonist with no name is meeting with Heather and her daughter Maya, with a bag full of unread letters. These are from his friend to be given to his daughter Maya. Whilst that in itself is not upsetting, what is is Maya’s unwillingness to accept the letters, and the letter we have the opportunity to read at the end of this piece. James has a stunning way of writing really great characters and from this two page extract, I really want to learn more about them. Plus there’s something great about each of the characters having an incredibly different voice that just reads incredibly well.

Perfection is Pain - Kristi Parmee

Speaking of great character voices, I love that of our protagonist in this story. Set in what I can only determine as a dystopian future of some kind, Perfection is Pain follows our protagonist through her process to be “upgraded” to perfection, meaning new teeth, a platinum kidney and a uterus that allows her to ovulate at will. In the short story, the protagonist enters the “Editing suite” to be edited and something doesn’t go to plan. With underlying thoughts on what it means to be perfect and to what extent people will go to, as well as the fact that you should be truly repentant to receive forgiveness, this story makes for very easy reading.

Holes in the World - Richie Copeland

I couldn’t mention this anthology and not talk about Richie. He was my poetry tutor this year and genuinely made the whole experience in my first year a joy. He really sold me on creativity and allowing myself freedom of expression. And you can feel that enthusiasm for the art of writing in his work. This story follows a group of friends in Cardiff, Banana, Dai and our protagonist. Dai and the protagonist are close friends with Banana being a guy they knew from school who joins their friendship group, although makes mistakes along the way. A particular favourite of mine is being told to dress up for Dai’s wedding and he comes dressed as Batman. This story is full of humour but also inherent sadness at the position of the people that are being written about. I also really love how I know many of the places that are mentioned. From living in Cardiff since September last year, I know exactly where the Burger King is across from the castle, and how queen street is often covered in McDonald’s wrappers. And what student doesn’t know where Revs is? I got a real good connection to each of these characters and I think that the use of imagery just really enhances this story. 

Gerontophobia - Sarah Dalley 

This story is a really interesting look at the life of a young person and their anxieties about the elderly. Whilst it’s socially expected for the elderly to be worried about the youth, it is not anticipated to be the other way around. Throughout they try and avoid the older characters who seem to have a lot of issues with them being outside at the same time. This seems to be a reversal of everything that we know from our current society. However towards the end the tables do start to turn and it is possible to see that young people are forced to act in a certain way because of fear. I think that this was a really interesting reversal on the society we live in and a really interesting read. 

Volume 2

This is How I Got Away With Murder - Breige Davies 

The dark, controlling nature of one friend versus the light, optimism of the other makes the story of this poem such a wonderfully intense one. The concrete imagery in this poem really cements the action in an idea that the reader an easily understand and the complete binary opposites show the contrast in characters. I think that this poem simply needs to be read to completely understand how great it is because I cannot do it the justice it deserves. 

Normal Norman - Alwyn Harries

This story speaks to me with a brother who’s on the autistic spectrum. Normal Norman shows the every day necessity for routines and compulsions for a child with an autism spectrum disorder and I think that it’s a really good way in which to show that they’re not entirely different, just that their brains work slightly differently. I find there’s a lot of humour in this story which often isn’t expected from something so serious as disorders of this kind, and ultimately I think it makes for a really interesting read, even for someone who understands it. It shows that there’s been a lot of work put into understanding those with the disorders it discusses and could even be shown to those with an autistic spectrum disorder to show them that they’re not weird at all, which is often something they like to worry about.

Blank Version 2 - Hannah Sierlis 

I can’t talk about volume 2 without mentioning Hannah. She is by far one of the best people I’ve met whilst at university, a South African with a whole load of interesting stories and a keen eye for imagery, Hannah has kept me entertained all year. Not to mention she read out her poem at the launch of this volume and I was blown away by it. This poem talks to a reader who may feel a little underwhelmed by life and what it has handed to them, who may feel boring or unworthy, and she encourages them to feel. Hannah plays around with words on the page, making some bigger or smaller, striking some out and underlining others to really emphasise her message and it is one of the poems that I continue to come back to regardless because it just fills me with so much joy to read it. 

Midnight Disturbance - Fiona Millar

Another great first year addition to this volume, and by far the shortest. Miller’s poem is 6 lines, 13 words short, but within this limitation she’s created an entire image that is by far one of the most common experienced by dog owners. I just found this poem to be so funny and engaging and really created a lovely image using very little at all. 

Lump - Kate Spalding

This poem ruined me for a while. I had to put the book down and just think for a second about how poignant this poem really is. Written from the point of view of a cancerous tumour inside the body of a woman who tries everything to remain healthy, it shows how smoking can affect your body and how leaving unknown lumps without going to the doctor can leave you untreated. The pure malice that comes from the voice of this cancer is truly horrifying, with an almost sneer coming through Spalding’s choices of words. I found it quite hard to read with it being very factual towards the end, as well as the use of imagery to enhance the devastation this caused her body. This poem caused me to really think and I love that it did. 

Him - Vicki Young 

A poem about unrequited love that you don’t quite realise until you’ve read it a couple of times. I read this and cried knowing that I have felt this way before and that people are feeling it now and I’m so lucky to have someone who makes me feel this way without the knowledge that he only wants one thing. I love how Young hasn’t used traditional metaphors or similes in this piece, and has focussed on creating some really interesting images regarding love, which can be incredibly challenging as a writer. I felt that this poem breathed a new lease of life into the genre of the love poem and I hope she continues on this similar thread in the future. 

Coffee Breath - Amy Parkes 

This poem is a brief snapshot into a couple of hours sat at a coffee shop alone. I’ve done it many a time before and I love that this has captured the very essence of that. It’s pretty melancholic in tone throughout, almost making me wish I could sit with Parkes at that coffee shop so she wouldn’t have to read alone or focus on the people around her. She picked out very distinct images and those are the ones that most people will recognise, for example the hipsters with their socks rolled up or the mother with a kid hanging from her arm, wishing she could just sit down and drink her coffee. I love that these images are so vivid and really bring the poem to life with lots of sensory vocabulary. 

So there are just a few of the many stories and poems collated in Metropolitan Volumes 1 and 2. If you’re interested in any of these stories and would like to read through the rest of the collection, they are available here and here (volume 2 to be put up shortly) for purchase. All of the proceeds that are made will allow us to be able to make more of these collections in the future and further give new voices a chance to be heard. 

Baby Doll - Hollie Overton

A dead bolt has a very specific sound. Lily was an expert at recognizing certain sounds - like the creak of the floorboards signalling his arrival, the mice scurrying across the concrete in search of food. But Lily always braced herself for the sound of the dead bolt, listening as metal scraped against metal. The lock was beginning to rust, so it always took him several tries. But inevitably, she would hear the click, the sound that meant they were trapped for another week, another month, another year. But tonight she heard nothing. Only deafening silence. Hours passed, and she couldn’t stop thinking about the lock. 

I came across this book on NetGalley, as I often do, and the premise of it attracted me immediately. I don’t know whether this is to do with my love for fiction about families or the psychological thriller tales of girls held captive and escaping but this story really intrigued me. I read this book in about 4 hours which just shows you how exciting a read it was, which is always great from debut authors like Hollie Overton. However this is not a story for the faint of heart. 

Lily Riser is a young woman who was abducted at the age of 16 by her high school english teacher. Eight years later he leaves the door unlocked which gives Lily the chance to escape with her six year old daughter, Sky. The story follows her return to her family home, reuniting with her mum, ex boyfriend and her twin sister, all of whom have changed in the time she’s been gone. Throughout we see how they try to rekindle and redevelop their relationships, whilst also going through the judicial process. 

What I really enjoyed about this book was the different character perspectives. Whilst still written in third person, every character chapter had a different voice which really bought them all to life for me, rather than being one dimensional characters. For example Abby, Lily’s twin sister, is an understandably angry character. Her story is really developed throughout and we discover what Lily’s abduction meant for her long term, and I think that her perspective gave a nice depth to the story. 

Additionally, having her abductor’s side put in as well really made the story a whole lot different. In other stories I guess we are only ever confronted with a story from the side of the victim. We only ever know their side rather than the motives of the abuser. What Overton has done so well here is create a character that I hated but also I knew that he thought he was doing the right thing. He talks in such a way about his wife that you know he must care somewhat, yet he’s married to her as a cover because married men are more trusted. 

I feel like some of the details were missing however. I feel that perhaps there would’ve been something in having a prologue with Rick interacting with Lily before he left. Throughout there is mention of how he acts with her, his abuse and such, yet not with their daughter Sky, and there is mention of how they both made attempts to make sure that Sky didn’t see what was going on. I would’ve maybe liked to have seen this so that I could really feel for Lily and have much more longing for her to break free from him. This is really sensitive material but I feel that, even if not in the form of a prologue but as some kind of development throughout, the detail would’ve made me hate him more and long for the characters to succeed. This would ultimately make me enjoy the ending a little more I feel. 

There are many twists and turns throughout this novel, people’s actions and things they say taking the story from one point of bad to another. There were many times in reading where I had to put the book down and just let out a huge sigh of “why?” at which point my boyfriend would simply turn to me and ask “has it gotten worse?” because yes. Yes it had. Even when you think it couldn’t. 

It had everything I think I could want in a well structured novel. A fast opening, quick turns and changes to turn me off course, different points of view to keep me engaged and overall a satisfying ending. 

Total pages - 288
Total read time -  4 hours
Rating /10 - 7

Recommend - Maybe

Baby Doll is released on June 30th! Preorder here

RE: Shakespeare's plots are terrible by Anne Tyler

Oh there are so many feelings right now towards this woman’s article. I came across it this morning on the wonderful Will Sutcliffe’s twitter and I just couldn’t not read it. And I have some things to say. And yes I’m going to go through and pick her article to pieces. Bit by bit. Because that’s how much it got to me. 

Anne Tyler - Author of Vinegar Girl 

The Taming of the Shrew is an outlandish story. So I filled in a few details and toned down the exaggerations. 

Okay, so for those of you who don’t know Shakespeare plays were often put on in playhouses where it was okay for the audience to be loud, eat and drink throughout, unlike in today’s theatres. Therefore the stories had to be outlandish and extravagant to capture the attention. Additionally, if they were plays about every day people then the audience would be less inclined to return to the playhouse to see another play. However what really makes me laugh is that, although she thinks that the plots are awful, she’s still used it as the basis for her new novel. 

“Well at least I wouldn’t have to come up with one of my own"

This is a direct quote from Anne Tyler herself about why she’d choose to use Shakespeare’s plot as a base. As an aspiring author myself this makes me so infuriated. I spend a lot of time, as do other authors, searching for inspiration and writing down ways that we can be different to others. The fact that she believes that she shouldn’t even attempt to find a new idea makes me despair. 

“I have to admit that I’ve been slow in coming to a true appreciation of Shakespeare. My first “Shakespeare moment” didn’t occur till I was in college… really it was someone else’s Shakespeare moment, but still, it made me realise that Shakespeare could still have relevance”

Okay so here Anne Tyler is talking about how a friend of hers read Shakespeare to feel less alone and comforted, and yet she hasn’t yet herself talked about how she’s developed an appreciation of Shakespeare’s works before beginning to unpick what he has created and create her new work. I feel that perhaps she’s just decided that she doesn’t like Shakespeare and thinks that perhaps she could do better.

It’s almost upsetting that she hasn’t actually realised that Shakespeare is relevant in all ways. We use his language every day. We quote him regularly without recognition. Yet all she can seem to do is say that his stories are “outlandish” although this was what they had to be for the time. Theatre has changed dramatically throughout the centuries to become what it is more commonly known to us. It used to be loud and full of life not just on stage but in the audience. Men used to play women’s roles. I think that to say that his plots are terrible is to forget what their context was and read them with a modern eye, which these plays were never meant for. 

And yes there are modern adaptations, some which are incredibly well done if I may say so, but yet they still remain true to their original story because that is what people expect from Shakespeare. We have always been trying to play around with Shakespeare’s work to make them more accessible but I’ve never felt that “another side” has been necessary. 

I just think that this article is too short for Anne Tyler to really give a balanced argument about her choice of wording. Additionally, I don’t think she’s opened up enough about her relationship with Shakespeare’s work and I definitely think that her writing style is filled with a self-appointed importance that is unnecessary but unfortunately unsurprising for an article in the guardian. 

If you want to, read the full article here

The Reader Problems Book Tag

This tag is old and done but I thought, since I’ve been MIA for a bit with uni work, that I’d let you guys get to know a little bit more about me as a reader. And how better to do that than through a list of questions that everyone’s already answered before me! 

  1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
Well I tend to look at a few things when I’m picking up books to read. Usually I’ll look at what I have on my kindle first. These are my ARCs or paperback reprints that I get through NetGalley and was really interested to read from their synopsis. I’ll usually revisit my shelf and reread synopsis to see if any of those interest me. If not I take a trip to my shelves and pick out what I’m feeling like. Maybe a book I’ve heard lots of hype about, or a new book by one of my favourite authors? Admittedly sometimes I choose the smallest books. Or the ones with the prettiest covers. 

  1. You are half way through a book and you are just not loving it! Do you quit or are you committed?

This question has me a little stumped. Sometimes I read on, other times I simply can’t. I feel bad for leaving books half finished but sometimes I just feel there isn’t enough of a plot to catch onto. However, if I feel there are enough ends to be tied up at the climax of the novel I do tend to read on in the hope that it’ll get better. Sometimes it does and it just takes time to get to. 

  1. The end of the year is coming and you are soooo far behind on your reading challenge. Do you catch up and how?

Hahaha reading challenges. I try and say I want to read 50 books in a year but it never happens. With university I’m trying to be so creative whenever I can, writing and what not, that I find reading tends to be at the back of my mind. I’m hoping it will be less so next year when I’m in a house, away from the noise and hassle of halls, where I can take more time to myself to really read. I think if I was behind I’d try and  catch up by reading novellas and graphic novels. 

  1. The covers of a series do not match! How do you cope. 

I don’t. Plain and simple. If I can’t get a matching cover I feel the need to buy a whole new set. Granted I tend to be so behind on popular series that I can just tend to buy them with their final cover evolution in a set so I tend not to be faced with this issue too often. But I do truly despise cover changes when the original covers are just so so pretty. 

  1. Everyone and their mover like a book that you don’t. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

I tend to just read lots of reviews. I’ll usually find someone who has the same opinions as I do. And I tend to just write honestly on my blog and put it aside. I’ve had this experience before but I’ve never gotten too hung up on it. Sometimes you just don’t like certain books. And that’s okay. 

  1. You are reading a book in public and you are about to cry! What do you do?

Stifle tears as best I can. Locate the nearest bathroom. Cry there. If no toilets are available; grab tissues and just cry it out. If anyone asks you what’s wrong, recommend them the book. If you’re crying, that book has obviously gotten you emotionally invested; it’s a good book. 

  1. A sequel of a book you really like has come out and you have forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Do you reread the book? 

I tend to prefer standalone novels but when I am faced with a sequel or part of a series that I am late to reading I’ll usually try and find a review on youtube or a synopsis somewhere. Usually I’m pretty good at remembering the details of the books I really like and would seek the sequel of, so I don’t think I’d reread. Maybe I’d skip through a couple of chapters towards the end or so. 

  1. You don’t want anyone borrowing your books. How do you politely tell them no?

“Oh uh I’d really rather not. I’m kind of particular with my books and I’d hate to have the spine bent or something like that” 
“But I promise I wouldn’t…."
“Ah but you never know. Really sorry but I can link you to places where you can find it cheaper"

  1. Reading slump! You’ve picked up and put down at least 5 books! What do you do?! 

I try and take myself away from reading all together if I’ve picked up that many. Usually I’ll sit and watch Netflix, take a walk, spend time with friends and family, and do all the other things I can until I become bored of the real world and long for the one between pages. I’ll usually start with a book I know I’ll love, or one of my favourites, just to get me back into the swing of things. 

  1. There are so many books you’re dying to read! Do you buy them all?

I have a note in my phone of all of the books I see when I’m in Waterstones that I can’t buy. If I’m in there I’m usually buying one or two already (only if they’re buy one get one half price) but then I’ll come home and search on amazon or book depository to see if they’re selling them any cheaper. Usually I just wait until birthdays, christmas etc for books. Easter time I got Caitlin Moran’s Moranifesto which I’m slowly working my way through!

  1. After you buy those new books how long till you get round to actually reading them?

Sometimes I’ll start them the same day, other times they’ll sit on my shelf and I won’t read them for a few months, or when I have the time. You’d think if I bought them I’d want to read them straight away, but I already have so many I haven’t yet read!

Thank you so much for sticking with this blog if you’ve been reading for a while. I really appreciate every reader and it’s something I love to do. Thank you!