Favourite Female Authors

Happy International Women’s Day! In honour of today I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite female authors and their books that I’ve loved. Let me know some of your recommendations for incredible female authors.

1: Roxane Gay

You cannot put together a list of inspiring female authors and fail to include Roxane Gay. She is a notable feminist and has written some incredible books, including Bad Feminist, Hunger and Difficult Women. Spanning a variety of genres, she is at the heart of my feminist reading and I cannot recommend her enough. To find out more about her, check out her website here or follow her on twitter at @rgay

2: Louise O’Neill

Louise O’Neill is possibly my all time favourite author. She writes incredible, dark feminist fiction, tackling some brutal topics, such as domestic and sexual abuse, in her novels. I have read every single one of books and I have loved all of them. Her most recent novel is After the Silence, which recently won Crime Fiction Books of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2020. You can follow O’Neill on twitter at @oneillo.

3: Maggie O’Farrell

I would be shocked if you haven’t heard of Maggie O’Farrell after her recent success with her novel Hamnet winning the Women’s Prize for Fiction last year. However, if you have missed her then you should immediately go out and buy one of her books. I’ve read 3 of her books so far and I’m yet to be disappointed. If I could recommend only one, then it would have to be her memoir, I am, I am, I am, Seventeen Brushes with Death. Follow this link to find out more about her work.

4: Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is the author of The Vanishing Half and The Mothers, the former of which was a #1 New York bestseller. Bennett is an intelligent author who writes beautiful novels that navigate various experiences of what it is to be black in America. Find out more here.

5: Jung Chang

Jung Chang is an impressive non-fiction author who writes about Chinese history. She is most well-known for her debut work, Wild Swans, and her biography Mao: The Unknown Story. She has more recently come out with a book entitled Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister. Chang is a highly intelligent historian, providing detailed accounts of the roles women have played in Chinese history, for better or worse. If you are a fan of non-fiction or history, you should definitely have a look at her work. You can find out more here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, let me know who your favourite female authors are.

Weekly Reading: 7th March 2021

Welcome to my new weekly reading updates! This is the place where I’m going to chat about what I’ve read each week, whether it’s a book, blog post or poem. I’m hoping this will keep me reading more, even when I’m at my busiest, but also act as a reminder that I’m always reading. Even when I don’t think I’ve made progress with a book, I’m still reading. So without further ado…

Top billing this week goes to…..(drum roll please)…..

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones!

I have loved sitting down with this book every evening before bed and reading a chapter or two. I was a big fan of An American Marriage when I read it a year ago, and I have loved this book just as much.

Silver Sparrow follows two girls who are half sisters, but only one of them knows it. Dana grew up knowing that her father had another family and that she was a secret, but Chaurisse has no idea that Dana even exists. What will happen when the two girsl finally meet?

This Week’s Runner Up….MsLexia Spring Issue

This week my spring issue of MsLexia arrived and I have loved flicking through it. MsLexia is a quarterly publication for women who write. It publishes submissions, current writing competitions, editorial pieces and so much more. Plus I am always blown away by how beautiful it is and how high quality it is.

Honourable Mention: How to Market Books

My first assessment is due tomorrow, so this week has featured a lot of textbook reading. It may not be first choice but I’ve definitely learnt a lot. Hopefully it will pay off…

I hope you enjoyed having a look at my weekly reading, like this post and follow my blog to get updates every time I post!

World Book Day!

An Ode to my Favourite Childhood Books…..and a few new recommendations.

It’s World Book day and the nostaglia for dressing up as my favourite fictional characters is strong. So I decided to write a post about my favourite childhood books (as an adult who apparently can’t go to work as a fictional character). And I might throw in some more recent suggestions too.

My Nostalgic Faves:

  • Bun Bun the Middle One

As a middle child this was a book that remember loving from a young age.

  • The Velveteen Rabbit

This book is an absolute classic and I loved the copy I had of it as a child with beautiful illustrations.

  • Anne of Green Gables

I absolutely love Anne of Green of Gables, I read the whole series, I watched the old tv series on VHS tapes and I adored the Netflix show ‘Anne with an E’

  • Little Women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Women is still one of my all time favourite books. I first fell in love with it as a child and continue to love it.

Current Recommendations:

  • Little People, Big Dreams

This is a beautifully illustrated series that teaches children about the lives of incredible people. It spans an incredible range of individuals that kids probably won’t learn about in school.

  • While we can’t Hug

This is new children’s book about social distancing and ways to show affection when you can’t touch. This is relevant during the current pandemic and opens up conversations with children about how some people may not like physical touch.

  • The Acrobats of Agra

Drawing from the true story of a french circus, this is a heartfelt tale of friendship and bravery.

 

Those are my best nostalgic picks and few new recommendations in honour of World Book Day, I hope you enjoyed it. For more of my recommendations, check out my top comfort reads here.

 

Audiobooks Count and this is why.

Whether listening to an audiobook counts as reading is a big point of contention within the book community. I wanted to throw in my 2 pence as someone who has days when I rely on audiobooks.

I have a chronic illness called Functional Neurological Disorder that can leave me in bed for full days, barely able to process full sentences or open my eyes. As you can imagine, days like these aren’t the best; enter an audiobook. On my worst days my only saving grace can be a good audiobook.

I can’t concentrate on reading or even hold a book sometimes, but I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to watch tv. This leaves no better solution than an audiobook. Audiobooks distracts me from any chronic pain, but require next to no energy from me. I love to read more than anything else, it’s my favourite thing to do, and being able to when I am my most ill means everything. Audiobooks can be the only way for me to pass the time.

When someone says that an audiobook doesn’t count they are taking away something that gets me through my worst health days. They are diminishing what little I can do on and undermining my choice to read in whatever way best suits my needs.

The refusal of some people to recognise audiobooks as reading is a fundamentally ableist belief. It is excluding people by saying that if they struggle to read a physical book they aren’t reading. Telling people with learning disabilities that audiobooks don’t count is nothing but gatekeeping. They may have struggled with reading for years and found audiobooks to be their only option.

An able-bodied person may not realise just how heavy a book can be, but sometimes even a kindle can be too much. I regularly experience a tremor in my hands and holding a book simply isn’t an option, but that doesn’t need to stop me reading.

It should not matter what your personal capabilities are, you can still read if you want to. Audiobooks are just another way for more people to find joy in books and that’s never a bad thing.

The Shelf by Helly Acton: 3.5/5

If you love reality tv and are looking for a fun, easy-read then The Shelf is for you. Told from the perspective of Amy, the book follows 6 women who are dumped on the new reality show ‘The Shelf’ and then compete in different challenges to be named The Keeper (and winner of £1 million) whilst living together in a house for 4 weeks.

Although this book wouldn’t have been my first choice in a bookshop, I got it through a book subscription service and it was the perfect book for a busy week. It was light-hearted, funny and I couldn’t put it down. It was truly as addictive as any good reality tv show is and that is the genius behind it. It is not trying to be anything but fun.

I’ll admit there are a few heavy-handed comments on sexism and less than subtle commentary on the more toxic aspects of reality tv, but it all comes from the right place. You are not being told to give up binging love island or stop talking about love is blind, instead this book fully appreciates the joy those shows can bring you. The Shelf knows that at the end of a long day, vegging on the sofa to some mindless episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians is exactly what you need, it just also shows how quickly things can escalate for those more directly involved in some of the shows being aired.

At the times the book also leaned a bit further into being cheesy than I usually go for, particularly in the final few chapters, but that didn’t surprise me. I knew what I was getting with this book and it definitely delivered.

For me this book was a solid 3.5/5 stars because I enjoyed it and that’s all. Was it one of the best books I’ve ever read? No. But did I have fun reading it? Yes. I couldn’t put this book down, reading it in just a couple of days, and would definitely recommend it.

MA Publishing: The Beginning

A little while before Christmas I mentioned that I would be starting an MA course in Publishing in January 2021. It’s now February 2021, I started my MA and the only way to describe it would be; chaotic. However, the chaos has in no way undermined my enjoyment of this course.

It’s probably of no surprise to anyone that starting a part-time master’s whilst working full-time and also applying for jobs (as my temporary contract rapidly comes to an end) in the middle of a global pandemic is chaos. I probably sound completely mad to some of you and I would probably agree with you. I have found the last few weeks so overwhelming at points that I’ve worried that I have made a terrible mistake. But then I take a deep breath, my girlfriend tells me to calm down and take a coffee break, and I remember that I’m actually really enjoying the course.

Although I might not love spending my evenings and Weekends catching up on seminars and reading, against all odds I do manage to enjoy it. And this speaks to my genuine interest in and love of book publishing.

Now I’ll be the first hold my hands up and say that I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that my first module would be on the marketing and budgeting aspect of publishing (it’s just not my area), yet even this has fascinated me. Whether it’s finding out about storing metadate or the nuances of audience profiling, I’ve honestly enjoying rounding out my knowledge out the industry.

I find it thoroughly rewarding to learn in aid of a concrete career goal (something that was unsurprisingly not present for my Philosophy degree). Whenever I sit down to read my big book on ‘How to Market Books’ I’m usually quite tired, often have a big mug of coffee or tea (read: glass of wine) and only just dredging up the motivation to bother after a full day of work, but somehow I always come across something that draws me into the reading.

All of this is to say that sometimes the madness is worth it. Don’t be put off a master’s degree just because it seems a little daunting. If you have a genuine interest in the subject, then it will almost definitely be a good decision. Obviously, sometimes it will be hard, and you might feel like you’ve made a mistake, but you will also get to learn about something that you love.

If you want to keep reading about my journey with this MA then give this post a like and follow my blog to be notified every time I post.

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Defeating a Reading Slump

As 2020 was coming to the end, I was looking back on what I’d read over the year and I noticed a few reading slumps I went through No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get myself to read, no matter the day, no matter the book. As a result, I thought I would post a list of tips for dealing with a reading slump.

1: Don’t force yourself to read.

This is the big one because if you keep telling yourself that you will read adn reluctantly picking up a book it will only make you feel worse for not reading. Instead you’re much better just taking a break and waiting until you want to read again. Giving yourself a break will allow you to miss reading and eventually bring back your desire to read. Sometimes a reading slump is the result of an overloaded brain.

2: Try out different books.

If you’ve hit a wall with a book and can’t seem to make yourself read it just stop trying to. There is no reason you have to finish this book before reading another one. I often find that if I’m stuggling with motivation to read, trying out a slightly shorter book or an easier read. By trying to force my way through a book, you will only reduce any desire to read. So put the book down, find a much easier/shorter read and try that instead.

3: Try out different formats.

If you’re struggling to concentrate on a physical book, maybe try out something different. I particularly like an audiobook in these situations because it lets me do other things. I can keep my brain busy enough to still enjoy some good books without being restless and unable to concentrate. Have a read of my post on audiobooks for why I love them.

Most Anticipated Reads for 2021

1: Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Milk Fed deals with an unexpected love story alongside the sharp edge of body image, considering what it means to break the calorie-counting habit and an obsession with food as a means of maintaining control. This is a novel that is described as ‘scathingly funny’ and a ‘heart-breaking story of self-discovery.’

Release Date: 4th March

2: Friends and Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford

A group of young housemates navigate relationships, work and loss and are confronted with their own privileges in the process. This is a debut novel that is thoroughly modern through its exploration of burnout and what it means to be young today.

Release Date: 2nd March

3: Women of a Certain Rage by Liz Byrski

This book is collection of writings about rage by 20 different Australian women from varying backgrounds, races, beliefs and identites. This is set to be a deeply insightful look at the relationship women have anger.

Release Date: 2nd February

4: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Melinda Lo

In the midst of the Red Scare, Lily is falling for a girl in her class while her immigrant dad comes under scrutiny by the government over suspected ties to the communist party.

Release Date: 19th January

5: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

When Jane meets Eddie she can’t believe her luck; he’s rich, handsome and recently widowed, whereas she’s a broke dog-walker who’s new in town. Eddie can give her everything she’s ever wanted, but there’s a mystery around his wife’s death that just won’t stay buried. This novel sounds like a perfect mix of dark humour, twisted love and suspenseful murder.

Release Date: 29th April

Comfort Reads

As I’m writing this it’s the 8th January 2021 and the UK is back in lockdown so in response I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite comfort reads. I’m not one to read books about very light-hearted topics but I’ve done my best to come up with some books that, in the simplest terms, I just really enjoyed reading. Reading them just made me happy. So whether

1: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

As one of my all-time favourite books, Little Women is probably my ultimate comfort read. I first read Little Women as a child so I’m sure that there is an element of nostalgia found in my love of the book but it is unfailing in it’s ability to make me feel warm and happy. Following the lives of the March sisters, as they transition out of childhood and into adulthood, learning what it means to be a woman in the 19th century, Little Women will never to cheer me up.

2: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I read this novel during the first UK lockdown back in May and it was a perfect form of escapism at the time. I’ll be the first to admit that fantasy is not my go-to genre, but when I was finishing my degree in the midst of a pandemic, entering a whole other world was the ideal antidote and Morgenstern creates and incredible world. A universe seeped in magic combined with a truly intriguing plot makes this book a perfect read to tackle lcokdown/January blues. See my full review here.

3: Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

This was a spontaneous purchase by my girlfriend that turned out to be one of the most enjoyable books that I read all year. If you’re a fan of a Sherlock/Watson pairing or an Agatha Christie style mystery, this the book for you. This a classic mystery novel brought into the modern day with some first-class LGBTQ+ and disability representation. I read this hilarious novel in two days and I’m desperately awaiting the sequel.

4: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This brilliant book follows the whirlwind rise and fall of 1970s rock band ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’. The book is written in the form of interviews with each of the band members and various people close to them at the time, all of which are interweaved to reveal the reasons behind the band’s infamous break up. This book is so well-written that you can’t believe that the band doesn’t exist. This is such an incredible way to craft a story like this and was an amazingly fun read.

5: Loveless by Alice Oseman

I read this novel last summer in about two days and it was a genuinely pleasant surprise. I’m not a big reader of YA so I still had a very fixed idea of YA being the same as what I read when I was younger, and so it was really interesting to see the evolution it’s made as a genre. This easy-read explores what it means to be 18-years-old and figuring your sexual and romantic orientation in a truly authentic way. See my full review here.

So those are my top 5 recommended comfort reads to help you get through lockdown, or just try to beat the January blues. These are all fun reads that will bring a person joy no matter the situation you’re in.

New Year, New Books: My 2021 Reading Goals

It’s the start of a new year and I’ve been thinking about my new reading goals over the next twelve months. I managed to read 50 books last year, including trying out some new genres and books I wouldn’t normally read. However, I am nervous to set myself a similar goal for next year as I had significantly more free time in the past twelve months than normal, leaving me conflicted over what goals I want to set myself. Despite this, I think I’ve finally settled on what I want to achieve over the next year when it comes to reading.

1: Read between 45-50 books

This is because I would ultimately like to read 50 books again but have decided to give myself some room to land a bit under and be realistic about how busy I might be with a full-time job and part-time masters degree.

2: Read 4 Classics

In 2020 I set myself the challenge to face my fear of reading classic novels and succeeded in reading both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen (and quite enjoying them). Whilst I don’t think classic novels are ever going to be a go-to genre for me, I would still like to keep reading a few of them each year. I’ve also found that the audiobook versions are great to listen to if I’m having trouble sleeping.

3: Buy fewer books (Take with a pinch of salt)

I love buying new books and I really loved it in 2020 but this means there are a lot of books on my bookcase that I haven’t read yet so I am going to try my best to cut back. Instead of buying every other book that I want to read, I am going to focus on reading the books I already own which will hopefully save me some money without slowing down my reading.

4: Make time for reading

Finally, I just want to make time to read. This year I want to always make reading a priority because it is something that I desperately enjoy. Regardless of whether I complete any of the above goals, I definitely want to achieve this one because no matter how busy I am, I want to keep reading.