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!!

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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.

Late Declaration of Reading Plans for 2014

I’ve been wanting to write this post since I posted my first haul more than a week ago but college demanded that it be delayed somewhat. Like so many other book bloggers out there, Goodreads has become invaluable to me overory gilmore challenger the years in helping me to compile lists of the books I’ve read, books I want to read and just lists  of books in general (God I love lists! :P). So it’s not surprising that I’m entering into their book challenge for my fourth consecutive year. I successfully read 36 books in 2013 and only challenged myself to read 30. I was more than surprised that I read as much as I did over the year because I spent the summer away from home in New York, working. Despite being incredibly busy and unable to bring a lot of paperbacks with me, a 2 hour daily commute and my trusty Kindle meant that I surpassed my own expectations. This year, while I hope to get a job, it won’t be in another country so I should have a lot more time to read. Therefore, I’m setting my challenge for 40 books. I failed to read that many books when I set it as my goal in 2012 but I was under a lot of pressure to study for exams in the first six months of that year so I forgive myself :).

I promised a reading list of some sort that would map out my reading for the next year and I sat down today and compiled it. It’s not exhaustive and it’s open to change but I either have to (for college) or want to read all of these in the next 12 months and I’ve left 9 spaces free for books I just pick up (or more likely books for the next semester of college).

The List is as follow:

College Books

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Emma by Jane Austen
  4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  7. York Mystery Plays
  8. The Knight of the Burning Pestle
  9. The Revenger’s Tragedy
  10. The Alchemist and other plays
  11. Anthony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
  12. As you Like it by William Shakespeare
  13. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  14. The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare

Pleasure

  1. As I live Now by Meg Rosoff
  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  4. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  6. This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl and Earl Family
  7. The Fault in Our Stars (while it won’t count towards the Goodreads challenge as it is a re-read I can’t resist reading it before seeing the film in June)
  8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  9. Eon by Alison Goodman
  10. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  11. Are You Somebody? Nuala O’Faolain
  12. The Cather in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  13. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  14. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David
  15. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  16. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  17. The sonnets by William Shakespeare

I also stumbled across a reading challenge called ‘The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge’ recently on two blogs which I’ve linked: NJC Novella and Blogs-of-a-bookaholic. Basically a list has been compiled of all the books which the character of Rory Gilmore either read or mentioned during the seven seasons of The Gilmore Girls . She was a veracious reader and I loved the series when I was growing up so it seemed like the perfect challenge to start with. I’ve gone through the list and marked the ones I want to read in purple and the ones I have read in blue however changing the colour of font on WordPress is beyond my abilities so I’ve just added two separate lists below (edit: I’ve since learned how to do it but this way works too). There are a number of books that I want to read this year and there are a lot that I have no intention of ever reading but my personal challenge is to eventually read the books off the list that I have indicated below.

Books to read for the challenge

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – 2014 TBR
  2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  3. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – 2014 TBR
  5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  6. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – 2014 TBR
  7. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  8. A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
  9. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
  10. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  11. The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
  12. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  13. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  14. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  15. Emma by Jane Austen – started to read but didn’t finish – 2014 TBR
  16. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  17. The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  18. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  19. George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
  20. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  21. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  22. Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
  23. Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
  24. Henry V by William Shakespeare
  25. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  26. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  27. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  28. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  29. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  30. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
  31. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  32. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – 2014 TBR
  33. The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
  34. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  35. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  36. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – 2014 TBR
  37. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  38. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  39. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
  40. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 2014 TBR
  41. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  42. The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
  43. Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
  44. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Started to read but didn’t finish 2013
  45. The Sonnets by William Shakespeare – 2014 TBR
  46. The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare – 2014 TBR
  47. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  48. Ulysses by James Joyce
  49. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
  51. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

Books I’ve read for the Challenge

  1. 1984 by George Orwell – read February & March 2011
  2. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Childhood read
  3. Atonement by Ian McEwan – Read December 2010-June 2012 repeatedly for school
  4. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney – Read April 2013
  5. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer – Read December 2012
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Read July 2012 –Reviewed
  7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Read August 2013 and again in November for College
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Read August 2011
  9. Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Read September 2010 to June 2012 repeatedly for school
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling – Childhood read
  11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – Childhood Read
  12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini –  Read January 2013
  13. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – Childhood read
  14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Childhood read
  15. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold  – Read October & November 2010
  16. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka – read January 2012
  17. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – Read March 2012
  18. Othello by Shakespeare – Read unwisely read during my leaving cert J – June 2012
  19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Read March 2013
  20. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Read 2012
  21. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe – Read June 2011
  22. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – Read March 2013
  23. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – Read January 2014
  24. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – Read June 2012
  25. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Read 2008- June 2010 repeatedly for school
  26. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – Read October 2010

Books I’m not interested in currently from the challenge list (there are a lot hence the cut)

Continue reading

Book Haul #1

While I have a more than a shelf full of books that need to be read, not to mentionImage the books for the next term of college…I may have picked up a few new books today. I stumbled across a 3 for 2 offer that I just couldn’t say no too and picked up a couple YA novels that I’ve heard a lot about but just past me by over the last year.

#1 How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Click link for Goodreads description

Click link for Goodreads description

This was first published in 2004 but I didn’t hear about  it until the movie promotions started last year. I wasn’t even aware that it was an adaptation until I stumbled across the book today. It sounds really intriguing. It’s told from the point of view of Elizabeth, who moves to England just before a mysterious war breaks out. We’re given very little details about the nature of this war other than it changed their way of life in some way that isn’t really elaborated upon. The synopsis does end by saying that “Mostly everything changed because of Edmond” which leads me to safely assume there’s a love interest somewhere in these pages which will be a nice change. I don’t read enough YA anymore in general so I’m excited to pick this one up, though it might have to be later in the month with all the college craziness that will descend on my head by Monday. O_o

#2 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Click link for Goodreads description

Click link for Goodreads description

This is one that I feel I have heard of in the past in YouTube videos etc but never in great detail. It was written in the late 70s and despite the fact that my copy doesn’t really have a great synopsis, Goodreads tells me that it’s a dystopian in which Earth has taken to breeding groups of child genius’ from which they choose the most elite to be trained in militaristic schools for the sole purpose of finding the perfect soldiers to fight against an alien threat. I don’t have much more information on this which makes me even more excited to read it; I like going into a book without knowing too many details.

#3 Divergent by Veronica Roth

Click link for Goodreads description

Click link for Goodreads description

I don’t even know if this needs too much introduction. I’ve heard this name so much in the last year or so that I think it’s blasphemous that I haven’t managed to pick up a copy. I got the new cover with gold writing on a black background, which I love and it gives it a Hunger Games feel, though I have no doubt that it’s pretty different. I know, I know, never judge a book by it’s cover but let’s face it we all like pretty covers for our shelves. Once again this is a dystopian. I know the new craze is dystopian but I feel I haven’t actually read a lot of it myself which makes the fact that I picked up three dystopian books in a row quite strange for me.

Ok that’s it from me… I’m reading the complete works of Austen at the moment for a seminar I’m starting on Tuesday so I don’t know if I’ll get many reveiws posted this month but I will post and I might even get the urge to review one of the Austen novels, who knows? 🙂

Results

Early last Wednesday morning as you were all tucked up in bed, I like so many of my fellow students was pacing the floors, waiting for 9 o’clock when my leaving cert results to be released. Never before have I been so calm and so nervous at the same time. Most of the nerves you feel at that moment are the ones you think you’re supposed to have, you see your friends almost in tears beside you and think that you must also react in that way. But when the principal’s door opens and you’re summoned in to collect that ominous brown envelope, you don’t care how you were feeling moments before. I can only speak for myself, we each have our own reactions, but a strange calm came over me. I thought before hand that I would have a problem opening the envelope, that the nerves would get the better of me, but they didn’t. I opened it quickly, taking only a moment to remember the huge amount of work that I’d put into the exams and accepting, in advance, anything it might hold. But I didn’t have to worry, when I pulled out the form the most important grade was right there at the top…A1 in English…top grade. Not many are lucky enough to get it despite being good enough. I’m delighted but also grateful, grateful to myself for getting the work done, grateful to my mom for believing in me and grateful to my teacher who made me believe it was possible. To remember where I came from and the work that went into getting where I am today is a strange, wonderful thing, but it makes me believe that whatever I decide to do in the future will work, simply because I’m too stubborn to let it fail and because I’m surrounded by people who won’t let it happen.

My English Course Reading list is OUT!!!!!

Ok, so before I get ahead of myself, I technically I haven’t been accepted into college yet. The stressful experience of waiting for that acceptance letter will continue until the 20th of August. But I threw an e-mail off to the wonderful people at the school of english in the college I hope to attend anyway, asking beggging to be notified as soon as the reading list was published…and it’s arrived!! YAY!!

In first year English we take a general compulsory course and then specialise in year 2 and 3. For Drama we’re studying

  • The Bald Prima Donna – EugeneIonesco
  • Look Back in Anger – John Osbourne
  • The Caretaker – Harold Pinter
  • Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Scarily I haven’t read any of these, actually I haven’t heard of most of them (except obviously Shakespeare :P). I look forward to the challenge. I do wish we were doing a different Shakespeare play as while I haven’t read Romeo and Juliet, those I’ve spoken to don’t rate it as one of his greatest works. But then again it is Shakespeare, so I can’t imagine it’s going to be anything but a pleasure to explore in greater detail.

For Fiction we’re studying

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – OscarWilde
  • Dubliners – James Joyce
  • Vilette – Charlotte Bronte
  • The Member of the Wedding – Carson McCullers

This group fairs a little better as I’ve either heard of or read all but McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray a couple of months ago and adored it. I was in the middle of exams at the time so no doubt a lot of the messages and symbolism most likely went unnoticed but I loved what I did manage to catch and look forward to going through it with a fine tooth comb. 😛 I’m actually reading Dubliners at the moment. It’s…strange…but I’ll hold off further judgement until I get into it properly (after I finish Inheritance :().

There’s also a poetry class but I won’t know exactly what we’ll be studying until I get started. Last but not least WE’RE STUDYING OLD AND MIDDLE ENGLISH! Ok maybe, possibly, I shouldn’t be so excited to study this. I know more than one person has given me a funny look when I’ve mentioned that I can’t wait to study it but I can’t. My old English teacher did a little with us in a class before Christmas and myself and a friend of mine were absolutely hooked! (not that I’ve actually attempted to learn anymore but in my defence I was studying for other exams) I’m not great with languages, but still find them fascinating. I was even tempted to take a latin module in 1st year of college but thought better of it. I can’t wait to learn how English as we know it evolved through the ages from that in The Canterbury tales to Shakespearean to what we consider English today. We’re studying Beowulf and I’ve already been told to get the translation as fast as possible so I’ll definitely do that.

All in all I’m really excited to get started, if not a little apprehensive as well. I’m also going to be taking classes in Psychology, Archaeology and History in my 1st year. I hope to then continue on to get a History and English degree. I’ve loved the college I’ve applied to for years, ever since I visited it on an open day. I fell in love with the old stone buildings and the character that it exudes. What can I say it appealed to the historian in me. Fingers crossed I get that acceptance letter in the post.

If anyone has actually read any of the above, drop me a line. *Goes to hunt down copies of the aboves*

P.S I will most likely miss my weekly review on Monday as my Debs/prom is tomorrow and I won’t get a chance to finish anything by Monday, unless there’s a miracle (or it rains). I’ll hopefully get something posted by mid-week though my exam results are also being realeased Wednesday followed by that all important college acceptance letter so I’m not sure when I’ll next be online.

Au revoir!