Six Months of Books

Now that half the year is gone, it really is high time I got around to summarising everything I’ve been reading. I set myself the goal of fifty books this year, and I’m very pleased (not to mention surprised) that I’m well ahead of target with thirty-seven already down (74% of target, 13 books ahead of schedule).

Here is a breakdown of those thirty-seven books:

Poetry

Through a Hedge Backwards by Rene Greig, Reflections from the Enler by Alex Dempster, The Orchard by Isobel Gamble, The World’s Wife and Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy, Famous American Poems edited by Gene Baro, The Goose Tree by Moyra Donaldson, Undying by Michel Faber, Crow by Ted Hughes, and Stranger Baby by Emily Berry.

Audiobooks in the Dresden Files Series

Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold DaysSkin Game, and Side Jobs all by Jim Butcher.

Young Adult Novels

No Life But This and Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan, Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah, Amoung the Ghosts by Amber Benson, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Life and Death by Stephanie Myer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee (audiobook)

Adult Novels

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin (audio), As You Like It by Shakespeare (audio), Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Non-Fiction

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (audio), The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight (audio).

Novelty/Gift Books

In the Garden of Happiness by Dodinsky, Doug the Pug by Leslie Mosier, and Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones by Bryan Cogman.

Other

The Female Line edited by Ruth Carr (poetry and short stories), and a novel-length fanfic.

*sighs a deep, contented breath* What have you guys been reading?


Want even more stats? Follow me on Goodreads here.

Desire (for National Flash Fiction Day)

It’s National Flash Fiction Day here, in the UK.

To celebrate the occasion, I present to you a super short story of mine, entitled Desire.

Janet licked her lips. Her eyes glazed over as she looked through the window at her soulmate. She’d been sure it was meant to be from the moment she saw the advert online.

Taking a quick moment to preen at her reflection, she stepped into the café, ready to meet her destiny. Bravely, she approached the counter, practically salivating at the shop girl before her. Everything Janet wanted was within reach.

Until, suddenly, someone jumped the queue and took the last doughnut out from right under her nose.

On Pride

June is pride month – a month-long celebration of everything LGBT – and today is exactly one year from when I came out.

I thought I would reflect on that but, here’s the thing… I’m not sure I’m properly “out” – if there even is such a state of being. (I’ve heard other LGBTQA+ people talk about how you don’t come out just once, but lots of times, as you meet and interact with new people.)

My “coming out” was in the form of the blog post I linked above. It’s a disjointed, rambly thing that I hope got my point across, but I’m not 100% convinced that it did.

At the time, I was incredibly nervous to post it. It felt monumental for me, and it was (purely for the fact of how I felt about it), but looking back at it now, I’m not sure it was clear enough. The detail I go into about my religious upbringing accounts for that.

Putting the “I’m pansexual” declaration up on my blog was, as well as being terrifying, a very liberating experience for myself. Perhaps only for myself, though. Outside of people who have read it, I’m not sure anyone knows about my sexual orientation. I’m fairly certain my family don’t, hence me wondering if I am indeed truly out.

Part of me feels like it doesn’t matter if people know or not – in a sense, it does, while in other ways it doesn’t matter at all. Like, why should who I find attractive matter to anyone? Especially since I’m in a secure, monogamous relationship. Relatively speaking, it’s a small part of who I am.

Yet I know the importance of representation. I’m sure there are young (and old!) gay and lesbian people out there who haven’t been able to tell people about their identity, who find heart in stories of other’s bravery. And I think it’s important to stand up and be counted as a member of the community. It’s important for the people who run the country to be aware of how vast the community is so they’re better able to represent it.

Regardless of who knows and who doesn’t and whether that matters or not, I can only speak of my own personal experience and feelings on the matter. One thing I can say objectively is that, no less than two years ago, the idea of attending a pride parade filled me with a sense of dread, whereas now I actually know what it means to have pride in that aspect of myself. For me, love won.

Readings at the Belfast Book Festival 2017

With this year’s Belfast Book Festival in full swing, I’m sure you’ve seen event news all over social media. It’s been fabulous, and I’m here to add to the deluge!

I’ve been to two events so far – the Tools for Solidarity poetry competition awards ceremony (in which I received a booklet with one of my poems in) and the Poetry NI annual slam (which I entered).

Two events still to come that I’m involved with are the Crescent Writers Read event on Wednesday (which is FREE!) and the Women Aloud NI readathon and mass reading on Saturday (the range and magnitude of which I’m very excited about).

Also on Saturday, the wonderful Claire Savage launches her first book – Magical Masquerade. I’m planning to get to that, too.

On Book to Movie Adaptions

I’m not a particularly fast reader. Maybe that’s down to my dyslexia, maybe not, but whatever the reason, the fact stands. Books over 300 pages make me nervous because I know they’ll likely take me forever to get though.

Now, that said, I just finished The Girl on the Train. I finished it in like three days, and it’s 400 pages. So, it’s fair to say I loved it. Fantasic page-turner and highly accessible. It got five stars from me.

Originally, I started reading it in way back in October last year. I devoured the first section (thirty or so pages) and was instantly gripped. I loved the writing even more then than I did when I restarted it a couple of days ago.

But why did I stop and take several months to go back to it? You might be wondering. Well, put simply, I watched the movie adaption.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the movie adaption. It gripped me, too. And I thought it would, which is why I chose to go see it. Some people refuse to see adaptions before reading the book they’re based on, and I understand why, but not me.

Experience has taught me that if I see the movie after I read the book, I will hate the film. The casting will be completely unpalatable because of how I’ve imagined the characters in my head, and I won’t be able to get past it. I know a lot of people have the reverse reaction, but reading the book after seeing the movie has never proved to be a problem for me before.

In fact, when I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower after seeing the film I actually think knowing the story in advance improved my experience. If I hadn’t known where the story was headed, I may have felt bored and frustrated with the slow start.

Anyway, back to the Girl on the Train. As I’ve already said, I enjoyed the movie and loved the book. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s not really a problem, exactly, it’s just that, for the first time, I felt that knowing all the twists and turns in advance did dull the experience for me, if only a little. I still loved it, but I think I could have loved it more. And yes, I probably would have disliked the movie had I not watched it first, but perhaps my heightened enjoyment of the book would have been worth that sacrifice.

Writing Through the Night

It’s 6.27am. I haven’t slept yet and, at this point, it’s unlikely that I will sleep before I head out to my last creative writing class for the [academic] year. I’m considering walking into the city centre instead of taking a bus. It’s the kind of mood I’m in.

One of the reasons I’m still up, aside from being an insomniac/nocturnal and having a criminally early class, is that I was writing a short story that’s been playing on my mind/heart for a while. It’s inspired by a conversation that happened in my aforementioned writing class. And it’s a story that, I think, could be developed further. It’s one that I’m tempted to turn into a short stage play. One that I’m considering having sequels to. I don’t know yet, and that’s okay. It’s not the point of the blog post.

I just wanted to say that, in times like these when I don’t have the time or energy to write much, writing is still what I come back to. It’s still what I love.

Perhaps it’s cliche, but I feel like there are so many stories in me. I want to write them all. And not even in the way of overworking myself that I’ve previously written about. I just mean that I am certain that telling stories – whether by poems, or plays, or novels – is what I want to devote my life to, ultimately. (Well, that and love, but that’s a different blog post.)

It is one of my sincerest goals to be considered prolific – to get as much down on paper in my lifetime as humanly possible. I don’t know if I’ve said that before or not, but it’s 6.38am and that’s what I’m thinking about.

Bands I Have Seen Live

The recent ‘Guess Which of these Ten Bands I Haven’t Seen Live‘ meme got me looking back at all the bands and solo artists I have had the privilege of listening to in person. Here is my list, so far:

  • 5ive
  • 911
  • Aerosmith
  • Alter Bridge
  • Atomic Kitten
  • Avenged Sevenfold
  • B*witched
  • Bowling for Soup
  • Crazytown
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Honeyz
  • Kings of Leon
  • Liberty X
  • Linkin Park
  • The Offspring
  • The Script
  • The Undertones
  • The Vaccines
  • Within Temptation

I actually think I might be missing some from that – it’s been a while – but it’s accurate for the most part. A pretty mixed bag, I would say.