Reading Lists: Books I Fell in Love With Through University

I graduated from my Masters course in November and, although I’m absolutely loving the chance to read lots of books that have lain unloved on my shelves for ages, I’m also kind of missing the opportunity to discover new books, books that challenge me slightly, and are maybe a bit outside my usual comfort zone for reading. Although I’m usually pretty correct with predicting what sort of books will entertain me, every now and then I come across novels that I would not have expected to love, and most of the time I’ve encountered these books through university reading lists. I studied English Literature and History, and then did a MLitt in Creative Writing so, as you can imagine, there’s been a lot of reading! So, for today’s blog post I thought I would talk about books that I never would have fallen in love with if it hadn’t been for university reading lists.

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Travel Tuesdays: Top 5 Destinations

I’m going to New York next week and I haven’t even planned yet! This is very unlike me – I absolutely love to travel plan (I even wrote a blog post on this very topic a while ago). Anyway, thinking about travel planning and sorting out what I’d love to do when I’m visiting New York has really made me think about other destinations that I’d love to visit soon. (Not that holiday planning is ever particularly far from my mind, as you’d probably guess from this blog.) And I know that if anyone reading this is anything like me, then you’ll probably enjoy reading about potential places to visit. So here are the top 5 destinations I’d love to visit soon!

(I also really don’t feel good with stealing people’s random photos from the internet, so the photos included here are ones taken in the countries I mention.)

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I mention Spain in this blog post so here is a photo of Spain. More specifically, Javea.

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The ‘I Love Spring’ Book Tag

I’m very excited about Glasgow actually having a proper spring for once in my life so when I saw this wonderful tag over at Jessie’s Dwell in Possibility blog, I knew that I had to take part! As I’m writing this, I’m in a cafe having a smoothie and there is gorgeous sun and blue skies outside so I’m feeling very springlike.

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Travel Tuesdays: York

As I’ve elucidated enough times on this blog, I’m actually obsessed with English history, especially the Tudors. (For the purposes of airing my own pet peeves, English is not the same as British; I hate it when people equate the two and leave out Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland!! Anyway…) I’d never been particularly interested in visiting York until one day I learned by chance that it was a fairly sizeable medieval city and there are lots of remnants still existing in today’s city-scape. And then, of course, I was completely and utterly sold, because old buildings are very near my top ten list of things I’m irrationally obsessed with. Needless to say, I loved York!

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York Minster

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April Wrap-Up

In April, my proudest achievement is undoubtedly managing to reach the milestone of 40,000 words with my novel. Sometimes, it can be so hard to keep motivated, especially when you’ve been redrafting, writing and editing this manuscript as long as I have! But I’ve definitely found a structure that is inspiring and working for me, and I’m really excited to keep meeting my writing targets.

I’ve had several cultural highlights this month – one of them was undoubtedly visiting Inveraray Castle at the beginning of April which is not only a gorgeously situated romantic old castle in the heart of Argyll, but is also used as a filming location in the first ever Christmas episode of Downton Abbey. (Which is really, not going to lie, my main reason for visiting there.) I also briefly visited Edinburgh for productive reasons, which sadly meant that I wasn’t really able to be a tourist, and I’ve been building up my summer bucket list, which should hopefully include another trip to Edinburgh and visiting one of the Outlander filming locations. I loved Love, Simon and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (so much that I may be going to see it again tomorrow), and I also really enjoyed the 2001 adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s novels Love In A Cold Climate, which you can find on Netflix. Also loving Dolly Alderton’s podcast Love Stories – I’m still very much a podcast newbie so I’m slowly making my way through all the many recommendations.

But now onto books…

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Travel Tuesdays: Bratislava, Slovakia

I’m sad to say that this is my last travel blog about my interrailing trip! I had intended to keep a travel diary when we were interrailing, but it was just too busy so I’ve really enjoyed treating my blog as an online travel diary. I’ve had so much fun thinking about, and recounting my travels back in August and September, and I hope those of you reading this have felt encouraged to visit one of these destinations because they’re all so lovely and definitely worth a visit! I would love to do a similar trip again. As usual, I keep finding myself drifting towards the travel guides in work, and right now I’m very keen on the idea of returning to Slovenia. But, without getting ahead of myself, here is my little guide to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

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Views of Bratislava

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Bookish Fridays: A Few Mini Reviews

I haven’t written any book reviews in a while, mostly because I haven’t really read anything in a while that I really feel is worth a whole blog post – a short caption on my Instagram account has seemed to suffice. But I have missed writing book reviews, so here are a few mini reviews of some books I’ve read recently. Let me know if you’ve read any of them, or if there’s any you’re planning on reading soon!

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The Rosie Project – Graeme Simison

At the end of March, I was really craving a nice, easy, charming love story. I often feel that romances/love stories are fairly denigrated in popular culture, which really bothers me because it’s one of the most universal experiences and even cynics usually fall in love once in their lives. (I have so many thoughts about this that I’m probably going to write a blog post about it soon.) I had heard good things about The Rosie Project, and seeing as I had bought my mum a copy for Christmas… Does anyone else buy presents that they secretly want for themselves?

I really liked this book. It was exactly what I was looking for, with the added bonuses of being intelligent, quirky, intensely readable and having a (paradoxically) very appealing protagonist.

The Gigolo – Francoise Sagan

My first Penguin Modern! I have definitely given into the hype of the Penguin Moderns, because I think they’re a fantastic way to sample a writer’s work if you’re not sure you’ll really like their style or focus. Unfortunately I was not keen on this one. I have already read, and really liked, two of Sagan’s novellas – Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile – and in comparison, these short stories just felt clumsy and indifferently written.

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House – Audre Lorde

Thankfully, this was a Penguin Modern that I did thoroughly enjoy. I had never read any of Lorde’s essays or poetry before, and I thought these were amazing. She is so rigorously intellectual that initially I found them a bit difficult to read, but they are so worth the effort. Her writings on intersectional feminism and her belief that, in order to lead fulfilling lives, we need to embrace the ‘erotic’ (in other words, the joy and potential of life) were just fantastic.

 

The Waves – Virginia Woolf

I have such mixed feelings towards Virginia Woolf. Some of her books I ADORE – she expresses feelings and humanity in such eloquent, inspiring phrases that she honestly makes me look at the world in a different way – and other books I really don’t like. I read The Waves for the first time last year, and by the ending I felt like I hadn’t appreciated it as much as I should have. So, I re-read it last week. Turns out that the beginning and the ending are my favourite bits and, despite a few illuminating passages and ideas of brilliance, the experimental style of The Waves just isn’t for me.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

No photo for this book, because I borrowed it from the library – but I loved this YA LGBT romance! Not sure if I’ve said before, but I really don’t like young adult novels because the writing irritates me and they’re often a bit too simplistic for my taste, but I thought this one was brilliant. I loved the film Love, Simon too – it’s just really nice and wholesome and inclusive. But I thought the ending was a little too cheesy.