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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reading is a personal affair

I used to be so self conscious about reading. How I read, what I read, how fast or slow I read...

I also just couldn't read enough. If I was hard pressed for content I would read literally anything with words that I could get my hands on as long as I was reading. During school exams I'd be banned from reading because I was caught one too many times with a novel hidden inside a notebook, pretending to study. So I would get friends to sneak me books at school and dig through old storage boxes and find old books, some even belonging to my granddad and read those covertly. I would go for days on end without sleep, caught up in a story.

But then I grew up. Real life (as well as age) hit me along with its responsibilities. I found that I could no longer get through a day decently enough with next to no sleep. If I was caught asleep at my desk in school I'd just get a scolding, caught asleep at my desk at work could get me fired. More than that, going through a school day half dead is doable, but trying to get work done when you can barely look alive is more difficult. Especially now with the needing more sleep thing.

So I realised that my reading had to adapt. Basically, I no longer had as much time, and energy, as I used to. I absolutely love books and love to read and in order to maintain this love I had to change. These are the things I've come to realise with age and wisdom:

  1.  I don't HAVE to finish a book just because I started it. I used to be so finicky about completing books. I'd start reading a book because the title/synopsis sounded interesting or the cover looked cool (yes, I do judge books by their covers) only to find out it was actually quite boring. But I had this misguided sense of pride in having to finish every book I started. And so I would spend days just trying to get through a paragraph of a book that did nothing for me but put me to sleep. Now that I'm older and have much less time I've realised that I don't have the time to waste reading books that do absolutely nothing for me but give me grey hairs. And I realised that I was the only one judging me for not completing it. Even if others do judge me, so what, I'm reading for me and no one else. So if a book is just utterly boring and I am finding no joy in it whatsoever I no longer force myself to suffer through it. I just close it and move on to the next book.
  2. It doesn't matter what you read. I used to be so ashamed by the fact that I read (and enjoyed) popular fiction and books intended for age groups so much younger than me. I would shy away from book conversations because I felt I wasn't worthy. Because I didn't love Shakespeare and have never read a single DH Lawrence book in my life. Now I know that I'm not the only one. There are many others who, like me, enjoy children's fantasy novels and those who have never read a classic. At the end of the day what you read doesn't matter (except to snobs). What does matter is that you do read and that you enjoy what you read. 
  3. Following on from point 2, just because I enjoy pop fiction doesn't mean I can't also enjoy classic literature.  And I do love my classics, not all of them, but some. One of my favourite books is Middlemarch. However, I usually shy away from saying so because I don't understand the deeper symbolism of the novel. To me I enjoy it on a purely base level, at face value. I'm not good at reading between the lines of stories and I never know whether when someone kills their cat they're actually killing their oppressive mother or if a child denies their parents authority they're actually making a stand against colonialism. I'm extremely dense when it comes to symbolism and interpretation. And this has always made me feel like a complete idiot and like I couldn't truly call myself a book lover because I didn't really get it. I even spent time trying to find underlying meanings in books and it just made reading unpleasant for me. Now, I just don't care. I just read and respond with whatever comes naturally to me. I'm not trying to write a doctorate on any of these books. I just want an escape from reality in the pleasure of a story. 
  4. You do not have to fit into any box. You're allowed to have a vast area of interest. Just because you enjoy horror novels it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good love story also. As I mentioned earlier, I will personally read almost anything. Don't limit yourself because society told you you need to fall within a specific norm. 
  5. Being a slow reader is okay. It's not a race or a competition. Though, it is kind of a race against time if, like me, you want to read all the books in the world. But essentially, it's okay to be a slow reader. I am an exceptionally slow reader. I'm so slow I feel like I should add a couple more l's to exceptionally just to emphasize how slow. I used to be so embarrassed about this. I still am a little, but now I own it. I even use it as an encouragement to get other people to read - I'm such a slow reader, I don't think anyone reads as slow as I do, so, if even I can read a book, then so can you. Rather a slow reader than a non reader. You read at whatever pace you're comfortable with as long as you enjoy it.
  6. Numbers don't count. This is a tough one for me. And I'm still trying to convince myself of it. It's really hard because as I mentioned above, I really do want to read all the books (well the ones that appeal to me) in the world. And seeing as I'm a mere mortal, the clock is sort of ticking on that. So the more books I read the better. But, reading is essentially about the pleasure. Yes, its about knowledge too. But if you don't enjoy it how much knowledge are you really going to gain from it now... So, for most, it doesn't matter if you only read one book a year, what counts is that you read a book and you enjoy it. I tend to feel really bad about reading so few books when so many people I know get through five times as many as I do. But, again, we have to take into consideration; time, what we're reading, how fast we read and what not. But most importantly, we have to remember that we're reading for ourselves. So if you read one book and you were happy, who cares how many books anyone else read. 
When it comes to reading, like with pretty much everything else in life, the key is to not compare yourself. You read what you want to, when you want to, how you want to and at your own pace. So long as you're reading and happy. Don't let someone else be the measure of your reading life. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Christine and The Queens - Christine (Clip Officiel)

Christine and the Queens - Tilted (Official Video)

I first came across Christine and the Queens on an episode of The Graham Norton Show. Christine and the Queens performed this song and I was absolutely mind blown. I immediately went onto YouTube to find the song and watched it on repeat for days. The voice of Heloise Letissier is simply angelic and entrancing and the dancing added to this is absolutely out of this world.

This is the English translation of the song. The original is in French and is even more beautiful.

P.S. I owe many thanks to The Graham Norton Show for having introduced me to many amazing artists, apart from Christine and the Queens.

My 2016 reads

My goal for the year (2016) was to read 25 books. To be honest, it was really my only real goal for the year. 25 may seem like a very low number to most, it does to me, but  unlike in my younger days, it's just harder to spend all my time reading now.

I only managed to get through 20 books in 2015 and I was determined to up that number in 2016. And, cutting it really close, I met my goal by completing my 25th book on the 31st of December. Yes, I am quite chuffed with myself. My goal for this year is to read 30 books. (Wish me luck.)

Anyhoo, these are the books that I read last year: 

1. Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult                                                   

This is my first Picoult book. I, obviously, knew who Picoult was before, I am living in this century after all. So my expectations were quite high. And, with this heart breaking story that had me in tears from beginning to end, I was not disappointed.                                                                                                                    

2. Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer

Not to be judged by the movies, the books are actually a good read.

3. The Lie - Helen Dunmore

I read Dunmore's "Brother Brother Sister Sister" as a kid, and enjoyed it. So, I expected this book to be good. It's not bad, but it was boring and I really had to push to get through this book.

4. Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella

The 6th book in the Shopaholic" series ("Confessions of a Shopaholic"). Not the most riveting of reads, but passable.

5. The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger

This is the first (and probably only) time I will ever say this, but,for once, I think the book wasn't better than the movie. And the book was much darker than the movie. I guess Anne Hathaway is just that good... But, the book cover is pretty amazing.

6. Revenge Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger

The sequel to "The Devil Wears Prada". Again, not a bad book, but it is really annoying and predictable. It frustrated me more than anything. But, I'd still read it if I could go back in time, 'cause some things I just need to get through and find out for myself.

7. Celebrity Shopper - Carmen Reid

Nothing out of the ordinary, typical chick novel.

8. From Cape Town With Love - Blair Underwood, Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due 

Interesting read. For me, the biggest draw was it being partially set in South  Africa. The story is slow to take off and there are some rather graphic scenes, but once you get pass those, the story isn't bad.

9. The Pale House - Agatha Christie

Not the best Agatha Christie novel, but still a worthwhile read.

10. Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Expectations for this book were so high, and it lived up to every single one of them, and then some.This book exceeded my expectations. It had me laughing, crying, shouting and just staring blankly into nothingness. This is definitely a book that everyone should read at some point.

11. London Bridges - James Patterson

This is an Alex Cross novel. And that is all I am going to say about it.

12. Getting Out of the House - Isla Dewar

This book reminded me why I love reading so much. Dewar is hilarious and absolutely witty. She had me laughing through almost the entire book. I didn't like the ending which was left far too up in the air for my liking, but I would still read it again. And I will keep an eye out for books by Dewar in the future. This is a book that makes me want to cry when I think that not everyone will get the chance to read this book.

13. Salem Falls - Jodi Picoult

Another heart breaking Picoult novel. The ending is the worst, but I must admit I suspected it all along. 

14. And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

From the guy who gave us "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" can we expect anything less than an amazing story. And this is a good one. A real tear jerker of course. However, it did drag in places a bit. Still a good read none the less.

15. Songs of the Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult

Never expect an easy story with Picoult. Or a happy ending. However, she tells a real good tale and it's usually worth it, especially in the sense of being closer to reality. In the case of this book though, I found it to be a waste of my time. I didn't like the pace of the story, especially the going back and forth. This is a book I would unread if I could.

17. Nemesis - Agatha Christie

18. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
19. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson
20. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson is a writing genius. This is yet another book that exceeded expectations and beyond. I love the characters. The story. Everything. It is a must read. Whether you're a guy or a girl, young or old - this book is for absolutely everyone.

21. A Walk to Remember - Nicholas Sparks

A sappy Sparks novel as can be expected. 

22. Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult

Again. This woman knows how to make you weep. But this book was worth it.

23. Murder is Easy - Agatha Christie

No, it's not.

24. While We Were Watching Downton Abbey - Wendy Wax

 I only got this book because I love Downton Abbey so much. And I'm still suffering great withdrawal symptoms. This book didn't let me down though, even though I started reading it for all the wrong reasons. Worth a read.

25. An Advancement of Learning - Reginald Hill

Reginald Hill is for me the all time crime author. He introduced me to my first ever crime story as a young teenager. And with that Daziel and Pascoe became my favourite crime fighting duo. I got to end my year on a high by having my favourite characters with me. To this day, they have never let me down. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Your Love Awakens Me - Phil Wickham


It's been a while. A very long while. I'm feeling pretty dreary about this week (already), so I just thought I'd share an awesome music video to help just push through the week.

This is "Your Love Awakens"by Phil Wickham. I first heard this song at a woman's conference at City Hill Church. The lady that performed it did such an amazing job. She made me fall in love with this song. I wished I had a video of her performing it, but unfortunately, I do not.

But, after the conference, I went home with this song playing non stop in my head. And I just had to find this song. And thanks to Google and YouTube, I did. And I am now in love with Phil Wickham's voice. This is officially one of my favourite songs right now.

I hope this song can bring you even a smidgen of the joy and peace that it brings me.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

My 2015 reads

I know that it's a bit late in the year to be rehashing my 2015 reads, this should have been done in the first week of January ideally. But, I must admit that the idea had not crossed my mind earlier. Also, when it comes to books, there is never a right or wrong time really now, is there... So here I am in the middle of March 2016 sharing my 2015 reads.

The list is a very short one. I somehow just don't have the time to read as much as I'd like to. And to add to this I'm also an avid series watcher, so my free time is split between reading and catching up on series. And a bit in my defense, I know it's just an excuse, but it does make me feel better - I was studying last year. So that obviously meant that a huge chunk of my time was forced to go on attending 3 hour lectures at night (after work I might add) and preparing assignments as well as studying for tests and exams... So it's a lot to juggle, just saying... This is in addition to the fact that I'm a very slow reader. Yes, I am a slow reader, and there is no shame in it.

Anyhoo, here is my list of my 2015 reads:

1. Cocktails for Three by Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham

If you've read Sophie Kinsella books, then you need no introduction... If not, Sophie Kinsella is an awesome "chick"novel writer. And like her other books, this is a light read that also hits those emotional spots and is a good read if you're just looking for something laid back and not too intense.
This book is absolutely amazing! And it just tugs at those heart strings so intensely. I cannot say anything more than it is a must read. It's just so beautiful and endearing. Just read it.

3. Sleeping Arrangements by Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham

To be honest, I can't even really remember what this book was about. But I do remember that it wasn't a bad read. Do click on the title and follow the link for more.

Another chick novel, and a bit predictable, but an enjoyable read none the less. Perfect when you're just looking for a relaxing read.

5. Gossip Girl - You're The One That I Want by Cecily von Ziegesar

6. Gossip Girl - Because I'm Worth It by Cecily von Ziegesar

7. Gossip Girl - I Like It Like That by Cecily von Ziegesar

Just to make it absolutely clear, I only read these 'cause a friend of mine had them and just lent them to me. I never turn down free books. And I was rather curious to have a go at the books... Needless to say, if you've watched the series then you know what the books are about... However, the books are different to the series, I can't remember exact differences, but there were major differences... Also, the books are far darker, or the characters in the books are far darker than in the TV series... And I had thought the TV series characters were pretty far gone already. Dan especially is a much less nice person than the TV series version... So, I'd only recommend this to young flurry teenage girls, or Gossip Girl fanatics, or just those overly curious (like me).

This is the fourth book in the Lorien Legacies series. I Am Number Four is the first book in the series... So, these aren't the best of the best, but they are fun reads. I currently have books one through to four. My sister bought me the first one and I absolutely loved it. I've bought the rest on sale. I'm still waiting to come across the rest of the books in the series on sale somewhere. If you're into young adult fantasy novels, then it's worth a read. I do enjoy Lore's unique writing style.

The title isn't quite what you would think, well to me at least... And, as much as it fits the typical European chick novel - woman dumped by man and now has to find herself as a single woman or single mother, generally in a new place and their journey through this, you know the deal... - it's still a unique concept being dealt with in the "secret shopper's revenge" plot of things. Again, this is a good novel to pass the time, or a good calming read between those more intense reads... These novels generally give you a feel good vibe and are hence worth it.

10. A Dance With Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin

11. A Dance With Dragons 2: After The Feast by George R. R. Martin

These need no introduction. If you love the Game Of Thrones TV series, you will love the books (even more). If you love any of the books in the series, you will love the rest. They're just EPIC. EPIC. I guess I'm cheating by counting them as two separate books, but hey, they're published as two damn separate books! And they're BOTH damn thick! And the writing is so damn tiny! So I will very well count them as two books and just leave me be, okay!

Not a bad read. 

I realise that I've read a lot of these European chick novels... But they are entertaining reads, I cannot lie. And also very quick reads as they don't require much thinking really.

If you loved the movie, Love Rosie, then do NOT read this book. This is the novel on which the movie is based. This book is absolutely amazing and heart wrenching and hilarious. It has everything. I laughed at times. At times I just couldn't stop crying. It's just so beautiful and such a beautiful story. I watched the movie version just because I loved the book so much and I wanted to see how they carried it out. I'm never a fan of the movie versions of books, I just like what they've done to the story... And the movie version of Where Rainbows End completely and utterly destroyed the entire story! It was a massacre! If I were the author I'd have sued. Or killed myself at the thought that people would now associate my work of art with that pathetic excuse of a movie.

This is such a touching and endearing story. It really makes you think. It's easy to judge when you're on the other side, but you don't know what it's like when you're faced with the situation yourself. Just thinking about it now, I feel like I know what I would do, but it's easy to make theoretical decisions. It's worth a read.

16. This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

Typical European chick novel again, but this one really ticked me off. It frustrated me completely. If you want to know why, go ahead and read the book... I can't say why 'cause that would be a spoiler. It's not a bad read overall, just really really frustrating. I wouldn't not recommend it.  

I doubt this would need any introduction... It's a classic and most likely on every reader's "to read" list. It was most definitely on mine. And I finally got my hands on it for only 60 bucks at an Exclusive Books sale. The joy! And it so lived up to the expectation. However, by 3/4 way through I realised there were too few pages for the ending I was expecting... Then by the end I realised this was just the first part. Apparently the book was originally published in two volumes, and my luck I got a version that followed suit. So I was quite disappointed by this, still am. However, the book itself is a good one.

Another classic. I am a lover of the classics and this book certainly lived up to expectations. It did annoy me at moments. And I do wish there was more of an ending to it. But all in all, an enjoyable read.

19. The Vampire Diaries - Stefan's Diaries, Volume 4, "The Ripper" by L. J. Smith

Related to the series of the same name, yes. I do enjoy the series, and I will unashamedly admit it. And I also did enjoy this book. This is a time waster book though. More like a book to read while shopping with your mum and holding her bags (which is what I did). 

Yes, the same author who wrote "Me Before You". She is an amazing writer and this is an enjoyable book. You won't go wrong with a Jojo Moyes novel. 

So, that's it. I only got through 20 books for 2015. I do plan to get at least a few more than that in this year. If you have any comments on any of the books mentioned above, or would like to share you own 2015 book list, feel free to leave a comment. 

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Travelling Library in PMB!

About three weeks ago I went to my local shopping center up the road from my office, Cascades, to get a much needed cup of coffee. Now, for those of you who live in Pietermaritzburg you will know of the renovations currently going on which forces you to park at the back entrance...

So I parked at the back entrance, something I haven't done in ages, and right in front of me is this white bus with books set up outside it. I obviously felt my heart start to race. I then walked to the side and forward and I see "Travelling Library" written across the door!

It was one of the happiest moments in my life! I was glowing! I couldn't STOP glowing. I couldn't believe that we actually had a travelling library in PIETERMARIZBURG! I'd expect to find one in Cape Town or Durban, but NOT Pietermaritzburg. So I was quite shocked to stumble upon this here... This was like a fairytale. I thought I'd maybe been so tired that I was half asleep and dreaming. But, it was REAL.

I walked up to the bus and found the librarian and asked her about it. And apparently this travelling library has been around for a long time. HOW did I not know about this before??? So, it works pretty much like any local library, the only difference is that it moves around. I immediately signed up. I had to 'cause the last time I'd been to my local library I was in high school.

It's not that I'd stopped reading. No. It was just that I'd studied away from home. Then there was work. And going to the library became a bit of a task. So I would just buy books instead. Also, borrow books from my awesome cousin who has a constant supply of new books. So, I never really felt the lack of not going to the library...

Until I saw this bus! All my childhood memories of trekking to the library, browsing through all those books... Feeling them... Searching and finding a book I liked... ALL came flooding back to me... I hadn't realised how much I missed going to the library until the library came to me (well sort of).

I just showed them my driver's licence and I was signed up! You're allowed to borrow five books at a time with a turnover time of two weeks. And this library has some EPIC books!

Anyhoo, this is great for those who have busy schedules and are unable to make it to their library. The travelling library is at different spots at different times on different days. I'll put up a the schedule below. Unfortunately for those living in the, um, less affluent areas like Northdale, Raisethorpe, etc. the library does not go there... But, if, like me you work near to one of the stops it does help out...

SO have fun and happy reading. :)