Escaping books!

The books are trying to make an escape! Just found this in the bin in my bedroom…😳  The absolute horror on my face could not be descriAmber Walsh's photo.bed. While myself and Mr. Pound had a love/hate relationship during my time spent as a postmodern student in third year at university I would still rather that this quite expensive edition which has my frustrated underlining and notes etched inside did not end up in the refuse if I can help it! There was a stack of poetry books next to my bedroom bin waiting for our first day back at school – I like to show students that poetry, drama and novels exist in forms outside of their textbooks to bring life and variety to the introductory (and sometime proceeding classes – look at me! You’d swear I’d been teaching for years!) – However I think it may be time to add that stack of books back into the book shelf for safe keeping!

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Bookish jewellery!

I have to share these little gems I got as a belated christmas gift from my mom and nan in recent days. I fell with a bespoke jewellery shop based out of wales through their facebook page and though their prices are great, I hate the exchange rate between sterling and euro so rarely treat myself to the english products I love. However there was one design that had caught my eye and I very unusually for me thought it would be beautiful not as the item it was made in (a pendant and keyring) but a ring. They accommodate requests so I promised myself I would get the ring in this design for my graduation in October. It never happened because I lost track of the date and had a lot of in the run up to graduation. So when I was talking to my nan she mentioned she wanted to get me a christmas gift and wasn’t sure what I’d like so I thought of the ring. Then mom being mom said she wanted to get in on this little deal and offered to get me the pendant with the same design. Again because we’re awful I missed the last shipping date for Ireland from the UK (I promise I’m not this disorganised in college or when teaching!). So it only arrived on the 4th January just in time for me to regale my learners with how much I loooove books again and harass them about their reading contracts…god I’m such a teacher and I love it! haha

I corresponded with a Nicola and she could not have been more helpful. Even when I changed something after payment she accommodated me and reflected it by refunding which I felt was very professional and something I’m not sure a larger company would be able or willing to do. It was a very human rather than cold exchange.

I would say if you are ordering a ring to go down a size as the band is very thin and is a bit loose so I will have to wear it on my middle finger which is unfortunate as I don’t usually wear it like that but isn’t a big deal. The pendant is also very large and while beautiful I will have to wear it a little more sparingly than I had anticipated. I plan to wear it on a very long chain due to its size as I’m quite petite and am not sure it would look as good on the 18inch necklace it came with. I’m working from home as I write this so will report back if my opinion changes when I’m wearing more professional clothing. All in all the design is still something I’m in love with.

Here is the website url for the company: http://www.scribbelicious.com/

bookish jewellery

New Year reading resolutions

I read my procrastination diatribe from last year in the last few days, this added to an overview of my Goodreads reading year has led me to the conclusion that I need to address my lack of reading for fear of literally being a hypocrite when I tell people I love books and reading. I’m an English teacher now (in training) and find myself in need of finding that majesty of reading my last post addressed so I can in good conscience stand before learners (their not students anymore apparently) and not feel a fraud. In my own defence last summer though I’d finished my English degree and should have been free to read whatever I wanted for the first time since I was about 12, I found myself with a list of books which could be taught to first year secondary school (middle school?) students. As I was going to be teaching that year group predominantly (I actually now teach second years also) and was unaware of which book would be chosen as this years text within my school (asking seemed monumental at the time the ridiculousness of which is evident now). In this way I read all of them and procrastinated between the reading of each because that was my want this summer. “Let’s put off everything I want to achieve this summer until I have to achieve it all in a whirlwind of anxiety”…there’s that procrastination again – who needs Hamlet when you have me! This means that the first 4 months of the year was filled with literary greats (for college), followed by 3 months of less monumental literary examples (for teaching) and the last 4 months was a barren wilderness of nothingness devoid of any stimulus but my many essays , class planning and lack of sleep.  So with that in mind, along with the fact I’m sick to death of not reading all the books I’m excited about and on the back of finishing my first book of the year by the 3rd of January here are some New Year reading resolutions.

 

  1. Read all of Shakespeare’s sonnets – my collection has 152ish if memory serves so using my poor mathematical skills that works out as 1 every 2-3 days. I’ve already read the first two in the allotted timeframes so this should be achievable once I stay on top of it.
  2. Read for pleasure not pressure – this will be achievable for the majority of the year I suspect. But will be challenging when I begin planning tutor/grinds classes I’m giving in the next 4 months and when planning for next years classes. But as my colleagues manage to do it, I’ll get there.
  3. Complete my goodreads challenge for the year – to achieve this I originally had it set at 10 but as this is ridiculous I changed it to 30. This should be manageable even with my hectic university department who refuse to accept that trainee teachers require sleep (oh sorry was my growing bitterness showing).
  4. Read the books I own – I won’t stop myself from treating myself as I have book vouchers which need to be used but I’ll try. Buying books was a pleasure I revoked from myself due to my student status but with grinds money coming in and those vouchers I think I can treat myself every so often once the books are being read.

I may add to these but I’m excited about these. Though they are basic, they are more structured than I usually go in for and a little more realistic than my mammoth post in 2014 (won’t be hard January posting is my forté!)

Speaking of that procrastination I’m writing this instead of an essay on the new oral element of the English curriculum…I’m actually my own worst enemy!!

The Majesty of books

This post was actually written 4 years ago before I began my degree course in 2012. It was preserved in the drafts section of this oft neglected blog and I felt it should see the light of day. So here are my thoughts on books from 24th August 2012 at 4.10pm (according to wordpress anyway!)

Recently I found myself needing (yes needing) to sort through my bookshelf. I’m sure I had an ulterior motive (avoiding study maybe) but that didn’t negate the fact that I just found myself wanting to clear out my shelves and be surrounded by piles of books for a few hours. To be completely honest with you, I love staring at and being around books almost as much as I love reading them. So a couple of days after finishing my exams I closed the door to my room and started taking down my books one by one. I was surprised by the different emotions attached to each one. Some novels (mostly the thrillers and the one’s I’ve neglected to read) I found I had almost no attachment to. I owned them but that’s as far as it went. As I kept going through my collection, I found myself stopping more and more to remember a cherished character, a favourite scene or a happy childhood memory preserved behind a cover. There was my collection of Harry Potter still with their dust jackets with my scrawled signature on the front page of each, showing my changing handwriting (believe me it only got worse over the years). Then to my shame there was the twilight saga, it made me laugh to remember how I HAD to have the next book, getting my aunt to drive me to every bookshop in a 20 mile radius until I found them. More nostalgically there was my extensive collection of dragon books with my copy of ‘Eragon’ sitting pride of place, despite the fact it’s literally falling apart from being read so many times. It’s my favourite book for that exact reason. The books my mom read to me when I was younger. She would never complain when I’d beg for another chapter (though my rose tinted glasses may be out). Each book seemed to symbolise some milestone or jold some memory, But there was one book that stopped me in my tracks. It was lodged in the very back of the bottom shelf hidden from view. It was a book given to me by my late grandfather, my first dictionary, literally entitled ‘My first Dictionary’. I remember him giving it to me and that he had written something, the date I thought. I opened it hoping to see some of the images I still had imprinted in my brain. I was amazed when stickers fell to the floor. Pokemon stickers. There was a time you’d find them everywhere I went so it seemed fitting that there’d still be a few hanging around. But as I flipped through the pages I stopped on the first page. There, in black and white was a simple inscription in my granddad’s familiar scrawl. I had a vague memory of it but was surprised by the memories it brought to the surface. This is the majesty of books, they are set out into this world to convey a story, or teach a skill but more often than not they transcend this and preserve and signify specific moments in a person life. They are special and I can’t wait to spend the next three years exploring my love of them.

Procrastination

This is a confession of sorts because I feel perhaps it only applies to me. Reading has become for me, guilt ridden. For years I have used and fueled my love of reading by studying it in school and then later college but the pressure this put on my reading, the manner in which I was told to read and the time frame I was given to do it meant that certain books now hold a reputation they do not deserve and others were thrown to the side because there. Simply. Was. Not. Time. I have not used the last 5 years to read widely and greatly, I’ve used it to keep afloat. This blog is a testament to that. It should be filled with theories and analysis because that’s what I love to do but each time I go to pick up a book or write, a voice in my head says “uh uh, shouldn’t you be doing somehing for credit?“. I’ve decided recently to become a teacher, to go back to the basics of what I love and teach people to love them naturally to warn young enthusiasts to guard their love and passion for their interests and do not let the world take and abuse them in the name of grades and credit. I sound more bitter than I am, I sound as bitter as I should  be. But I’m too stuck within the system, I have literally bought into it and it drives my thought process with guilt and pressure. Come May 7th I will have finished my undergraduate career. It has been a dream but in many ways not in the way it could have been in terms of English. History has, of course, outdone itself. But then I went into college with a vision of the amazing things my new English department would offer me, I didn’t with History (guess which one disappointed me).

Decisions

There is nothing in this world more difficult than a decision which will decide the course of your life from this moment forth. If that sounds a little dramatic, I’ll append that sentence with the disclaimer that of course in future years this decision may not seem as important or complicated as it did in the moment, but it is the moment we are now discussing.

I’m going to speak from experience because the position I find myself in life is a position that many people will/have/do find themselves in. Yes ladies and gentlemen that all important decision of what will I do with my life. What will make me happy and excited to get up in the morning. I’m fortunate that I have this choice, of this I am aware. I have had the opportunity to go to a good university for three years and complete (nearly there) an Arts degree in English and History. `But now as post grad deadlines loom I am asked by society to choose. Chose a path, choose a life, choose a career. Believe me I know it’s about bloody time I get my act together and give back to society but the context in which I want to do this is a blur to me.

I have thought about this in the past. I haven’t just waited until the deadlines came to panic and rant at the void. But maybe I’ve changed my mind slightly or let enough doubt into my decision that I am not comfortable with it being set in stone anymore. I’m not sure and I don’t know quite what to do about that, as I always thought I would one day have an epiphany and land on the job I wanted. But to no avail this has not come. I thought it had twice in the last three years of undergraduate bliss. Both were different jobs. The latest would lead me to a life of uncertainty for the rest of my days. Blagging from one job to the next or immigrating which many people do and I have in the past (for a short time, knew I was coming back though) but I frankly don’t have the cahonas for it anymore. Shoot me I like my mother’s company.

It’s not a question either of being good at something. Anyone can trick the system. I get good grades, for me that doesn’t mean that I’m cut out for a career. It should, but it doesn’t. Trust issues with myself – great, add it to the list. Regret is my biggest fear in life…I think. I don’t want to deny myself an opportunity to be excited, do something new, inspire myself and others. Which path should I take however? What if I don’t know? Because I don’t think I do.

Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James

Click on cover to see Goodreads blurb

Click on cover to see Goodreads blurb

Why I have it: I picked this up when browsing in Waterstones with my mom. We’ve recently rewatched the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and when mom read the back of this and realised why the Pemberly of the title sounded so familiar we both got excited and eager to sink back in what is one of my favourite fictional worlds.

Main Review:

I didn’t immediately realise it was a crime novel, other than the obvious fact that the blurb says that Lydia believes Wickam, her husband, has been murdered. Obviously if I was familiar with P.D. James’ work at all I would have realised but alas I’m not.  That didn’t put me off reading the book as I do like and have reviewed crime novels in the past but it genuinely is just a crime novel, with very little added by the fact that Austen’s characters are used.  It is not even as deep as a crime novel should be due to the fact that she fails to go deeply into any of the characterisations and some characters are conveniently sent out of the room at odd intervals so that she doesn’t have to find a position for them in the ensuing ‘action’ (I use that word unwillingly). I did not find it to be very intricate or clever though others may find some of the revelations at the end to be more surprising than I ultimately did. Largely I feel like I read a detailed summary of a crime and a court case which the addition of Austen’s characters added little to.

I found it repetitive in trivial details which seemed to be an indiosyncracy of the author, though having not read James’ work widely or at all other than this novel I cannot confirm this. There was also several instances where information known by one character or worse still the omnipresent author would be inherited by another character. I was often left trying to figure out when Elizabeth and Darcy had had time to exchange information in particular, as they kept mentioning how little time they had to confide in each other. The exchanges between some characters was stilted and there were missed opportunities to delve deeper into relationships and characterisations which is the main point of reviving long set to rest characters is it not? Without spoiling the story the interactions of certain characters who have serious fissures in their past relationship were literally brushed over unceremoniously. In particular Lydia has maybe 5 lines in the entire novel which considering the premise of the plot is unfathomable.

There is evidence of extensive research into the social constructs of the time and the way the court system worked however characters who have little to no knowledge of the legal court occasionally become mouthpieces for what is evidently the authors views on how the court system of the time could have been improved. There is also mentions of Mary Wollstonecraft works which at first seems like a clever and enlightened way of showing the type of conversation which may have been had at the time but on further reflection is more of an unnecessary nod to what the author has read about the period.

Of course all in all it was amazing to delve into the world so magically formed by Austen so long ago. I am a recent but avid fan of her work and was delighted to dip back into the world of Pemberly in particular…I mean Mr. Darcy and Lizzie are magical together, I just wish this incarnation of them had been more successful as a whole.

As an added bonus there is a brief description of the interaction of characters of Pride and Prejudice with those of Persuasion and Emma, which was bizarre and frankly unnecessary in the case of Persuasion as it doesn’t add to either story and gives little depth of knowledge of those characters that a cursory reading wouldn’t gleam and is only slightly more successful in the case of Emma.

I gave it three stars on my Goodreads because though this review (like many of my reviews :/) concentrates on what was bad about the book it did have good qualities. I almost always love a book as I read it (otherwise honestly why would I bother reading it) but then have to sit down and reflect on it so that I don’t end up giving five stars to everything I read when they just don’t deserve it (in my opinion of course).  There is a lot of the start of the book given over to summaries of what happened in Pride and Prejudice which for me seems unnecessary as I can’t imagine why someone who hadn’t read the original text would want to read a glorified sequel. Though I have said that there isn’t a lot of depth given to any of the characters in the start surrounding the summaries is little snip bits of what James believes happened to these characters after Austen stopped chronicling their lives. Though she later looses me when she starts over analysing and in my eyes villainising innocent characters from the original book these first pages truly won me over and were what I wanted when I bought the book. Ultimately though I was tempted to just give it two stars I gave it three because I enjoyed the experience of reading it. It was engaging despite being at times too concentrated on the actual court case.

Rating: 3/5

What I’m reading now: The girl with the Pearl Earring, though this may change as I haven’t totally engaged with it yet.