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Go Set a Watchman and It's Not How Good You Are

Thursday, 9 March 2017

These last couple of weeks, I've been putting reading to the bottom of my priorities list. Nevertheless, I still managed to finish two books, the first being Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Having really enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird, I was thoroughly looking forward to finally reading the sequel. However, Go Set a Watchman really disappointed me. Set 20-odd years after the first novel, the characters are now grown up; Jean Louise - 'Scout' - is no longer a cheeky and outspoken little girl, Jem is no longer in the picture, and Alexandra (the disliked aunt) is now a permanent resident at the Finch's household, helping Atticus who is now in retirement. 

The book focused mainly on Scout, which I had no problem with, as she returns back home from New York. To put it simply, she finds that the town isn't what it used to be. The plot of the novel focuses solely on that fact: that her hometown is changing. That's it. I couldn't help but being disappointed. 

The second book I read was It's Not How Good You Are but How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden. Rather ironically, the title is longer than the book. The book offers a positive 'you can do it' message, and gives advice on how to do certain things in work. About half way in, however, the advice becomes specific only to those who work in advertising or marketing which I found very strange. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book, but it was a very short read which only took me about 20 minutes to finish. I will probably go back to it now and then when I need a bit of inspiration. 

Now, I'm reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which I am loving. I'm only about 100 pages in, and have another 400 or so to go, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It reminds me of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which was one of my favourite reads of last year.

What did you read this last month?

Prompts for Writing Love Letters (To Yourself)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

What better time to write a love letter than in the month of February? Although Valentine's Day has come and gone, I truly believe that the dark and dreary days of February are in dire need of some positivity. With that being said, I have compiled seven questions all focused on the theme of love and, in particular, self-love. These questions are designed as prompts to help you get started on writing yourself a personal love letter, however, they can be used in whatever way you'd like.

1. What is the best compliment you have ever received?
2. What makes you feel strong or invincible?
3. What are you good at?
4. What do you love about your life?
5. Who appreciates you?
6. What makes you unique?
7. What positive character traits do you have?

If you used these prompts, or if you have any you think I should add, please let me know in the comments below!

Atticus Finch, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Monday, 6 February 2017
So far, my New Years resolution to read more books is going particularly well; I've managed to get out of my reading slump and I'm on track to complete my reading challenge on Goodreads. In my last post, I shared my recent reads and what I planned to read in February: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story itself is rather small and so it didn't take me long to finish. I have to admit, this is one of those occasions where I believe the story would've been a lot richer if it was longer. I felt that there was a lot of potential which was lost as the story was constrained into 70 pages or so. The edition I have, the Penguin English Library, also includes the short story 'The Bottle Imp' and an essay by John Sutherland titled 'What does Edward Hyde look like?'. I didn't really care much for the story but I really enjoyed the essay which looked at the descriptions of Mr Hyde within the novel and the film adaptations of his character - I think I enjoyed it more than the actual story to be honest.

So, after finishing the short Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, I decided to start reading the modern classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Although I've had this book on my bookshelf for years, I've always pushed it to the bottom of my to-read list. So far, I'm about 100 pages in and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

What do you plan to read this month?

Scott, Zelda, #FuturePRoof and Dr Jekyll

Monday, 30 January 2017

This year, 2017, I've made it my resolution to read more books. After completing my degree last July, I have been in a bit of a reading slump and, despite receiving some beautiful books for Christmas, I can't remember the last time I actually finished a book.

I've been actively trying to read more non-fiction recently and in particular, I've been trying to read more biographies. For Christmas, I received a couple of non-fiction books including Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda by Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks. It is a thick book filled with 333 letters that Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald sent to each other from the late 1910's to the 1940's. These letters detail Scott and Zelda's romantic life as well as Zelda's mental breakdown and submission to Prangin's Clinic, Scott's ongoing problem with alcoholism, and the financial difficulties they both endured. It is a truly fascinating read, and one I'd highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the Fitzgerald's and/or American history.

As well as Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda, this month I've also been reading journals and books about public relations. I found the above, #FuturePRoof, within my university's library. Rather than a reference book, #FuturePRoof is a collection of essays written by the most influential people in the industry. As it was only published last year, the essays feature contemporary issues such as the effect of Brexit and - my personal favourite - gender and public relations. I'm hoping to go back to university in September and study public relations, and before I do so, I'm trying to get in some additional background reading. 

In February, I hope to read a book I've had on my to-read pile for some time now: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a nineteenth-century novel about one man who investigates the strange association between Dr Jekyll, a doctor and experimental scientist, and the 'damnable young man' Edward Hyde. I've never read anything by Stevenson, but this book sounds dark and twisted and I'm very excited to read it.

What did you read this month?

Harry Potter and... Feminism?

Sunday, 20 November 2016
For my third year dissertation, I decided to combine my love for feminist linguistics and contemporary children's books. Inspired by a paper I read by Jane Sunderland, I decided to look at Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban, and analyse it using van Leeuwen's framework on social action. In particular, I looked at Hermione Granger, who has often been referred to as a feminist icon within the Harry Potter series. However, closer inspection of a chapter within the aforementioned novel found that Hermione, instead of taking on the brave, smart and confident role we have come to associate her with, instead took on a rather submissive role within the chapter.

That is not to say, however, that Hermione isn't a feminist icon in her own right. As I point out within the paper, Harry Potter can be read from many different, and contradictory, standpoints. And, with the recent release of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, it is likely to continue to be the topic of much feminist investigation.

If you're interested in Harry Potter, feminism, or both, you can read my paper, which was published on my university's journal and website respectively, for free here. If you do read it, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

I Graduated!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Life has been pretty crazy lately. At the beginning of July, I had my graduation! Three years of hard work and determination finally payed off as I graduated, not only with a First, but with the award for 'best overall student'. I have to admit, when I received the letters informing me of my overall grade, and the award, I thought it was some kind of mistake. Although I received good grades at university, I had no idea that I would be graduating with that kind of honour, too.

I am so proud of myself and everyone who graduated with me. It's been three long years but all the stress and worry finally payed off and it was such an amazing day. My family joined me in the celebration and they cheered me on from their seats. We then had some really yummy food and headed home so that we could celebrate with the whole family. It was a pretty long day and, despite my constant worry that something would go wrong - 'Will I fall on stage?' etc - everything was fine.

Now, I'm officially an English Language and Literature graduate, and although I'm not sure what my next move is, I'm pretty excited to see what the future holds.