Favourite Books of 2017… Part 2

Earlier today I published the first part of my favourite books of 2017 and then, of course, ran out of room because apparently I enjoyed too many books last year… Please give it a read if you like bookish lists as much as I do! Or, if is probably more likely, you feel like procrastinating by browsing some really good books. Either way, I hope you enjoy, and please let me know if you’ve read any of these and enjoyed them too!

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Favourite Books of 2017… Part 1

I read a lot of books last year. A LOT. More than I’ve ever read before, unless ‘re-reading Harry Potter/the Inkheart series/any Karen McCombie novels/Malory Towers endlessly until the pages fall out’ counts as reading more than 113 books in one year, which I doubt. And there were a lot of excellent books lurking in that enormous pile, as you’d expect.

There were also a lot of vaguely irritating sexist eighteenth-century novels because I decided to make full use of my university library before I graduated, and cross off a lot of pesky (and fairly obscure) ‘classics’ that had somehow made their way onto my seemingly never-ending TBR list. Writing this has severely tempted me to make a ‘Worst Books of 2017’ list, because there were a lot of bad books that deserve to never be read again by any sensible human being, but I also discovered many delightful reads that I might never have come across if it hadn’t been for the weighty shelves of the University of Glasgow library, so overall, I’d say I’m glad for this year’s dusty little experiment! (This year there will be less weird classics and more good, enjoyable, there’s-a-reason-people-remember-them classics. You can consider that a binding promise that I’ve made with myself.)

I was also planning on including all of my favourite books of 2017 in this one blog post, but then I discovered that there were 27 in total. Oops. So I’ll share the rest next week. Read on to find out some of my favourites…

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Bookish Goals 2018

Hello WordPress! So I haven’t posted on this blog in quite a while – I guess I lost inspiration and motivation, and wasn’t quite sure of what direction to take the blog. I did  tackle a re-vamp of my blog in early October, which I’m very happy with, but haven’t found the time to post anything since. But I’m back, and keen to focus on What Rachel Did again!

I’ve also been really busy and there’s lots of exciting things going on in my life at the moment. I graduated from my Creative Writing Masters with Merit, I’ve been working full-time at Waterstones, I’ve been writing a few theatre reviews for The List, I’m now a Director at the Scottish Writers’ Centre and I’ve been interning at a small Glasgow independent publisher. It’s amazing I’ve actually found the time to read a lot, but I somehow managed to beat my record and read 113 books last year. I’ll be posting a round-up of my favourite 2017 reads soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share my bookish goals for 2018!

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Book Review: The Wonder

As you can see from my review of Room – the first book review I ever published on this blog – I’m definitely a fan of Emma Donoghue’s writing. But, despite my love of the heartbreaking Room and my insatiable appetite for well-written historical fiction, the plot of Donoghue’s latest release, The Wonder, initially didn’t grab me. Set in mid-nineteenth century rural Ireland, the novel follows the unusual and gripping case of young Anna O’Donnell, a devout Catholic who claims to have survived without food for three months. But are her assertions factual? Is the entire situation a hoax, or a miracle of faith? With the highly religious community bent on establishing the truth of the matter, a Catholic nun and a Crimean War-trained nurse, Lib Wright, are recruited to guard Anna day and night, and discover if she really is the saintly marvel her family assumes she is. Protagonist Lib is refreshingly modern in her views – atheism included – and acts as a fitting guide to this archaic world of patriarchy and tradition.

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Unfortunately I borrowed this book from the library so I’ve had to steal this photo from online: credit to http://www.chatelaine.com

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Top 5 Tips for Planning Interrailing Across Europe

As you’ll probably see quite a lot on this blog in the upcoming few months, I’m going interrailing around Europe this summer. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for the longest time, and the idea of seeing so many beautiful places in one longish trip is something that I’m incredibly excited about! It’s a really common holiday, especially for students, but it can be a difficult thing to plan. There’s flights, accommodation, European travel, budgeting and itineraries to think about – not to mention the fact that the trip is still supposed to be a holiday! – which can all prove surprisingly time-consuming and tiring. Although I haven’t quite jetted off yet, I have (finally) booked everything, so here’s my top tips on how to arrange your journey interrailing around Europe.

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Can’t wait to delve into this chunky travel guide!

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Book Review: Doctor Zhivago

In my opinion, films are rarely better than books. I can think of a handful, and they’re usually due to lacklustre writing or limited character development. Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago has neither, yet in many ways it definitely fell flat of David Lean’s iconic film adaptation, released in 1965.

The novel follows doctor Yuri Zhivago in the years before and after the Russian Revolution; beginning with his mother’s death at the turn of the century and spanning Moscow, the Ural Mountains and vast swathes of the Russian countryside, it’s certainly an epic of impressive scope. Populated with a huge cast of characters – all of whom are referred to by different names at various points in the narrative, as is usual in the confusing Russian canon – it also draws upon the controversial view that the Russian Revolution wasn’t quite all that it was hyped up to be, an understandably divisive statement to make at the height of the Soviet Union’s Communist regime.

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Photo credit: Doctor Zhivago, 1965

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Travel Tuesdays: Crete

Crete: the largest of the stunning Greek islands, home to both fascinating ancient history and a massive array of holiday resorts.  For a beachy, sun-soaked holiday, you really can’t do any better than this gorgeous island, combining both culture and traditional holidaymaker fun in one charming package.

Reading online that Stalis, our destination of choice, was described as a ‘village’ I was expecting a small resort with just enough places to explore, but I couldn’t have been more wrong: it was, in fact, a lively town packed with bars, restaurants and Greek tavernas lining the rugged beachfront.  Endless golden stretches of sand dip around the coast to meet the surprisingly clear sea, and bars offer pleasingly cheap prices for sunbeds and a matchless view of the undulating hills silhouetted against the vividly blue cloudless skies.  Everything is offered: from cheap cocktail deals to classy and stylish beach bars; from delicious pizza to conventional Greek fare. (I recommend feta cheese, and chicken souvlaki!)  Freebies are offered with every meal – either fresh fruit, bread or a shot of your choice, the Greek staff members are always kind and willing to help in any way possible.

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The beach at Stalis

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