April Wrap Up

How is it May already, I mean seriously this is getting ridiculous. One minute you’re thinking ‘new year, new you’ and the moment you start making decisions on how to change your diet it’s almost halfway through the year. This past month has been packed with essays and finishing uni and my dissertation, but somehow it feels like I’ve read more than ever. I’ve been trying to do a 30 day reading challenge, which started off fantastically (reading at least 50 pages a day), but then I became really ill and didn’t read a word for several days. So, up and down, but what can you do?

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So first up for this month I finally finished reading Paradise Lost by John Milton, something which I have been reading for one of my university modules. I really enjoyed it actually, especially with all the classical references and allusions, and would highly recommend this edition (pictured above) if you’re interested in studying it. On every page there is an array of criticism so if you’re writing an essay on certain passages there is bound to be some great details that you can get in.

Then I finished The Art of the Publisher by Roberto Calasso, a short book about Calasso’s experience of being a publisher. It’s a short, quick read and really interesting if you’re interested in books and the process of publishing. There are some beautiful passages in there as well – my favourite being that of him describing the insert blurb of the book as a letter to a stranger.

If you’ve seen my last few posts, you’ll know that I finished the glorious Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, which I did a review of here. Definitely give the review a read if you’re curious about the book, but for now all I’ll say is it’s packed with magic, stories, and dreamers.

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This month I also finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I have been listening to on Audible for a good few months! I haven’t been listening to audiobooks much recently, so I was really happy to get back into the rhythm. This book was especially fantastic and, as I’ve found with all the Harry Potter books, the final quarter always has me up until the early hours of the morning listening with avid anticipation.

I picked up Saga as well this month, a graphic novel by Brian Vaughan. I’ve heard some really good things about it and was recommended it by a friend, and I can honestly say I loved it. Great sci-fi fun with a perfect balance of action, pathos, and humour with brilliant characters and an immense imagination.

Finally, last night, I also finished reading The Power by Naomi Alderman. When I try to think of what to say about it, I’m kind of lost for words, but to sum up I gave it four stars on Goodreads and wrote this when I finished it: The only thing I can say for a fact is that I’m conflicted. There are many elements of this story I loved, and think maybe overall it could have landed itself better as a short story. There are however elements that I wasn’t sure about. I think what the author was trying to do was very clever, and I agree that although the ending is unexpected and I’m not entirely sold on it, I can say that it is a challenging move for the author to make. Basically I just want to discuss this with someone – especially as some parts are really oversimplifying gender as we understand today.

SO, this is how I’m standing for this year in my reading challenge:

  1. *4 ‘Classics’
  2. *A Man Booker nominee
  3. **A Baileys nominee
  4. *A Feminist Book cover to cover
  5. **‘A Blue Cover’
  6. *A Graphic Novel
  7. A Horror Book
  8. *Finish a series you’ve started
  9. A friend’s favourite book
  10. Poetry book
  11. *Book over 500 pages
  12. *Book under 150 pages
  13. Book with a character with your name
  14. An autobiography
  15. **A play
  16. *A book from your TBR
  17. ***Book published in 2017

Harry Potter was the only book I couldn’t find a slot for on my list, but for the others I could tick some things off! Art of the Publisher sorted out a Book under 150 pages, Saga ticked off the Graphic Novel, and I’m on my way with the 4 Classics target as Paradise Lost is being counted as one. Strange the Dreamer I chose as a book published in 2017, though really it’s as blue as blue gets so could have been another mark for ‘blue cover’, and The Power is nominated for this year’s Bailey’s prize! I’m really happy with the amount I finished this month, what with all the uni work that I had going on, and it’s terrifying to think that in my next wrap up I will have finished my exams and university completely! This year needs to slow down, stat.

Audible review

It shouldn’t be news to you (unless you’re new, in which case hi, welcome, and don’t hate me for what I’m about to say) that I haven’t read Harry Potter. Many reasons, the main one being that my brother read them and when I was younger I was determined to be nothing like him. Many years later brings us to present day where every weekend I work in a bookshop with people who, no surprise, have read the Harry Potter books and look ready to kill me whenever I mention that I haven’t. Then, one probably-not-beautiful-or-sunny-and-most-likely-rainy day, one of my colleagues recommended Audible. As the first month was free and you received a credit to buy a book, I thought ‘why not’ and signed up.

I should add at this point that this isn’t sponsored, but I would so be up for being sponsored. Publishers, I’m looking at you.

Audible is pretty simple. Using your amazon account, you can download it onto your phone or tablet, or any device you want it on really, and buy as many audiobooks as you want. Each month you get one ‘credit’ with which you can purchase any audiobook, and as they vary in prices this can be very very handy. With my experience so far, I’d say they have the best customer support I’ve found in a long long time. I emailed asking about prices, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to afford £7.99 a month as a student, and immediately they dropped the price for me.

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As you may have already guessed by now, which my credit I chose to purchase the first Harry Potter which is read by the magnificent Stephen Fry and, let me tell you, this is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. You have not lived until you’ve had Stephen Fry reading to you with his incredible talent at voices. His Hagrid? Oh man.

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Now that I walk to university, I’m unable to read on my journey which has actually cut out a huge chunk of my reading time. I did try to read whilst walking one day and, admittedly, I managed not to fall over on the way there (although I did trip several times), but on the way back it started raining and there was chaos. Now with Audible, I’m able to listen to the book and I’m surprised at how much I love it. I’m already on the second Harry Potter book with this month’s credit, and with both books being over eight hours long it truly is fantastic. I walk for about an hour and ten minutes every day, so it’s a solid amount of ‘reading’ time. Every now and then I’ll also listen for a while before I go to sleep because, let me tell you, having someone read you before you sleep is something that shouldn’t be restricted to children.

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So I would highly recommend Audble, whether you walk to work/uni/school or whether you drive or whether you just want someone to read to you. It’s truly a delight I wish I’d invested in sooner, and a must for those days when you want to read but you also just want to close your eyes.

Oh, and yes, I am enjoying Harry Potter and I’ll talk more about that another time, don’t worry.

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