I’m trying to come up with fancier names for these monthly wrap up posts, but for now the titles are what it says on the tin!
I know we all say this, but where did March even go? Just a minute ago I commented on how February blew past without me noticing and suddenly it’s April. I can also proudly proclaim that I only fell for one April’s Fools joke yesterday, which for ‘lil gullible me is a new record.
However, as March has waved goodbye, here’s my monthly video; little snippets and tidbits that I’m hoping to look back on one day and go “oh, I remember that!” Loved ones were hugged, many mugs of teas were drunk and new challenges were faced head on. March was a good one.
Of course, I wouldn’t really call myself that, but with a book collection that just crossed the 600 book-mark (he he, see what I did there?) I can see why I maybe should. I think books make a room cosy, a living space warm, and a temporary small student flat a home. The reason why I hold on to a lot of these books are because I really like them, and keep coming back to them. There are books on my shelves with more notes scribbled in the margin than actual ink on the paper, and books so tattered that they’re bandaged with three years worth of tape. However, there are also books that never received the love and care they deserve, and I have no issue letting go of books I don’t enjoy or that I can’t see myself reading again in the nearest future.
The reason I’m going on about my book keeping habits is because one of the student organisations at my uni is doing a book swap day; you bring in 1 to 10 books you don’t enjoy anymore (but someone else might love), and get to swap them with the same amount of new (to you) books.
So I thought we could have a look at some of the books I’m letting go of this time. Mind you, these are picked from the small collection of books I keep on the shelves in my uni room, which is why there aren’t more.
I also really want to point out that I’m not giving any of these away because they’re bad books! Maybe the story or the voice just didn’t resonate with me, maybe I just can’t make the time to get into it, or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea anymore. No matter the reason, these are all good books that will get a second chance at spellbinding someone else.
Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
This book just didn’t grab my attention the way I hoped a badass fantasy story about people who are able to turn into dragons would. I really liked the premise, but I just didn’t feel like it focused on the interesting parts of the story. I was also unsure about the tone of it, sometimes it felt like it played too much into humour and comedic timing, when the situation surrounding the dialogue or comment was quite serious. However, this story has a lot of potential of becoming someone else’s new favourite book, and so hopefully someone’ll pick it up on Monday!
Blurb: In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
I must admit that I haven’t really given this book as much of a chance as I should have. I often struggle with enjoying post-apocalyptic stories, and I must admit that the blurb beginning with words like “Defeated, crushed and driven almost to extinction” didn’t reel me in, it felt a bit too heavy, if that makes sense? But I’m sure most of this can also be accredited to me just not being that much into Sci-Fi. I’m sure someone who are is gonna love this, though.
Blurb: Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
Wicca by Harmony Nice
I’ve always been really interested in nature religions and find Wicca intriguing to read about. I love the idea of whatever you put out into the world you’ll receive threefold and being in balance with oneself and with nature. I’m not a religious person though, and even though I’m really interested in Wicca as a concept, I’m not looking for a religion to practice. This book became a bit too handbook-y for me, which makes sense as the undertitle is A modern guide to witchcraft and magick. Still, a well written book that’s gonna bring someone else a lot of joy.
In the end I parted with six books for the exchange; the ones shown above, a collection of Norwegian essays, and a couple more novels. Books are a great and wonderful hobby, but always buying new ones is also a form of consumerism. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy new books or get a book you’ve been waiting for, as soon as it hit the shelves of your local bookstore, but it is worth it to maybe have a look in a charity shop or a second hand shop, or a book exchange like this one, – they may surprise you with wonderful new reads. The second part of the book exchange is on Monday, and I’m so excited to both get to see my old books get picked up by new, excited hands, and to maybe pick up some new favourites myself; favourites which someone else have decided deserve a second chance.
I’m feeling creative these days, and thankfully, there are a lot of projects I can channel that creative energy into. I’m working on a cross stitch piece for a workshop I’m a part of, I really want to write again (I’m just not sure what), and I’ve just gotten my hands on some exciting new books. So what better time to do a WWW Wednesday post!
WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):
-What are you currently reading? -What did you just finish reading? -What are you planning on reading next?
I am currently reading: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Cathy and I went to see this play broadcasted at the Cinema in Winchester last winter, and I loved the intrigue, the confusion and the strange and wonderful characters. Yesterday I found it for £2.50 in a little Swanage book shop, and I’m working my way through it now. So far very good!
Blurb: Variously melancholy, lyrical, joyous and farcical, Twelfth Night has long been a popular comedy with Shakespearian audiences. The main plot revolves around mistaken identities and unrequited love. Both Olivia and Orsino are attracted to Viola, who is disguised as a young man; and Viola’s brother, Sebastian, finds that he is loved not only by Antonio but also by Olivia. While offering broad comedy, Twelfth Night teasingly probes gender-roles and sexual ambiguities.
I just finished reading: The Hat by Selima Hill
This isn’t the sort of poetry I usually read just for fun, but we had another one of Hill’s books, Jutland, as a set text for a poetry module last year, and I do really like her style. It’s playful and witty and truly bisarre. I think I’ll have to read it again, though, to really get under its skin!
Blurb: Selima Hill’s latest collection, The Hat, is a disturbing portrayal of a woman’s struggle to regain her identity. Her story emerges through a series of short poems, often related to animals: how she is preyed upon and betrayed, misunderstood, compromised and not allowed to be herself. Like all of Selima Hill’s books, The Hat charts ‘extreme experiences with a dazzling excess’, with dark humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish.
Next, I’ll be reading: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
A reread of an old favourite; I love Neil Gaiman’s books and the strange worlds he creates! I read this the first time when I was fifteen, and keep coming back to it, for the rich character gallery, the edge-of-your-seat moments and the biting dialogue. Chris Riddel’s beautiful illustrations are also a reason for why this book is a work of art.
Blurb: Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts. There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.
So these are my reads right about now. How about you, what have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think? And if you’ve got a WWW Wednesday post up today, pop a link in the comments and I’d love to have a look!
Now that we’re about a month and a half into the semester, our lecturers have given us a reading week for reading, revising and getting on top of the course. We’ve already handed in 8 assignments and gotten through quite a lot of set material, so this feels like a nice treat, a “go, focus on the parts of the curriculum you want to focus on.” However, with great freedom comes a completely unstructured week, with what could potentially be just 5 days of off-time. I don’t want this week to slip away like holidays often did when I was a child; one day you’re running home from school with 7 long days of fun ahead of you, and then suddenly you’re back at school feeling like the holiday hadn’t even been a thing in the first place.
But not this time! This time, I’ve made a plan, split my day up into “classes” and focused on different modules. This time I’ll get what I want done, done.
So, I figured, why not make a blog post about how I’m intending to structure and spend this week, and who knows, maybe it could help someone else too. I’d also like to post updates throughout the week, to see how successful this plan is, and how I have to adapt and change it to fit how the week is actually going.
So, let’s get into it!
Make a plan (and stick to it)
I’ve split my day up into hour-long chunks, from 10am-4pm. 2 and a half hour before a half hour break, with one module in focus before the break and another after it. At the end of every hour, I’ll give myself about 10 minutes if I feel like I need it, to go get some food or make another cup of tea.
This plan looks a bit intense, but everything I’ve put on it is stuff I already know but want to either just get further under my skin or want to better my overall understanding of. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get into a good workflow and get most of these things done. Tuesday and Wednesday are also study group days, meaning a change of air and work scenario.
2. Find a place to work
It’s important to find somewhere to work that is the right kind of quiet. I work best in areas where there is a little bit of background noise, but nothing actually loud. Home alone is almost too quiet for me, libraries are perfect, coffee shops are a bit too noisy. I find that if there are absolutely no sounds around me, I get distracted. If I’m home alone and the flat above me is (uncharacteristically) quiet, I start tapping my pencil, looking out the window and reaching for my phone. Libraries, however, have all the “good sounds” that keep you focused; tapping on laptop keyboards, chairs shuffling and bumping into the desks, book pages brushing against each other, and pencils scribbling on paper. Also the occasional heavy sigh from that one economy student in the corner poring over yet a larger book every day. However, this is highly individual, and you need to find out how much noise you’re comfortable with and that makes you the most productive.
I’m going to alternate between the study section of the library and my desk in the flat. For the Norwegian module-part of the plan I’ll be at home because I’ve got a lot of work resources in different books, folders and also taped to my walls, and so that would be easier to do at home. Heading to the library to then get started on the module after the break will provide a bit of fresh air on my way down + a change of scenery.
Note to self: Need to properly clean the desk before getting to work, to tidy away the worst distractions.
3. Make sure you’ve got everything you need!
Print powerpoint presentations, make sure your notes are tidy and organised, have all your books and stationery easily within reach. Have everything prepared so that you can just reach out a hand and grab that book you need with that great chapter, when you get into that work-flow it’s so easy to talk about but not as easy to attain. Also, take a lot of notes along the way, as notes are often easier to revise from than your textbooks when exam season comex around. Keep these readily available too.
4. Get enough food and enough sleep!
You can’t get any productive work done if you don’t eat well and get enough sleep. I’m very guilty of going to bed a bit late, but I am making a conscious effort to turn that bad habit around. Not getting enough sleep makes you drowsy and unproductive, and it’s also just bad for you and your health in general. So let’s get in some early nights, people!
5. DRINK TEA
Okay, this one might not be relevant for you, but I firmly believe that no work can be done without tea. Ever. Tea increases productivity by approximately 102% and those are completely and utterly true facts. Or maybe not. Or are they?
6. Take breaks and call it a day
Make sure that you’re working when you’re supposed to work, and that you give yourself a break during break time. Also, evening time where you don’t think about work at all, is also important. I often find that if I don’t have a plan to follow, everything I do end up taking a lot longer than it needs to, as I’m doing a lot of things at the same time, and not really devoting all my attention to one project. Because of this, I can be working on an assignment for an entire day, and then end up with that final “come on, just get this done with”-impulse late in the evening, meaning it has eaten up all my potential evening me-time. This rarely leads to results I’m happy with, and so that’s why this plan starts the day at 10 and ends it at 4 pm. After 4, I won’t even be thinking about uni, if I can get this right.
I’m excited for this week, and to try out this new system. I know this may seem super basic to a lot of people, but as the degree I did before this was a very creative one, I’m used to working whenever creativity hits, which is often at the most inopportune moments, and I may be a bit guilty of carrying that habit over into this new degree. I’m using this week, however, to get myself properly back on track and hopefully start the process of developing some good habits!
When your childhood stops by for a minute, in the shape of a sudden new book in a series who shaped you at 14 years of age, you run to the mail box. You run in your red wellies and your pyjamas, with sleep still misting up the corners of your eyes.
When you open the book for the first time, you’re going to be 14 again, clawing at the covers of what you thought was the end of the story. When you turn the title page, sat on a chair in your student flat-kitchen, you’re going to be transported back to that holiday when you were 10, that time you almost didn’t get in the pool because the story had you more captivated than chlorine water ever could. When you run your fingers along the pristine pages, the shining dust jacket and the black silk bookmark, you’ll remember the feeling of the tattered covers of books reread, of books well-loved, in your 12-year-old hands.
When your childhood stops by for a minute, in the form of a book you thought you’d never read, you put aside linguistic terms and phonetic theory, to dip into this world that welcomes you back, with cloaks and scrolls and fairytales.
When your childhood stops by for a minute, you stop too. You make a cup of tea, you put on some cosy socks.
And just like that, the story never ended.
So, context time! I loved this book series called Phenomena, by Ruben Eliassen, when I was a kid. The first book of the series came out in 2006 and the last in 2011, and these stories were important companions that proper helped shape my reading journey as a child and teen.
Through crowdfunding, the author has now published a new book; one that can either be seen as a finale to the old series, or a new beginning to what happened next in this story. Whether a final bow or an opening number, I’m so so so excited to get into this book, and I can’t wait for a deep dive back into that part of my childhood were the skies in the books were as real as the ones above my head.
It’s February 1st today, and January felt like it lasted a year.
I started this month at home, with Harvey visiting from England. From then and until now, I’ve moved flats and gotten settled, started up a new semester of my BA, found out that I really really enjoy my degree, received marks and got As on all my exams (!!) and with some lovely people, I’ve done a lot of work, both at uni and outside of uni.
Last year I filmed a second everyday, from January throughout July. A lot of stuff happened during those months, and I love to look back on those clips now – to see how much can change in a short amount of time. Watching the days slip by as seconds also really do put things into perspective.
This year, I’m gonna try again, and this time I’ll see if I can do a whole year, now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do six months.
So, without further ado, here’s my January! It may not look all that eventful to you when you watch it, but it’s been a good one.
Hope this first month of 2019 has been kind to you!