As we head into the final quarter of the year, the Stuck at Home book tag seemed like a great opportunity to reflect upon the year.
I’ve actually been on furlough for most of the year, and whilst this hasn’t been ideal, I’m thankful for it. It gave me the opportunity to reflect upon what I value most, what makes me happy (or unhappy!), and the direction I want to head in as I approach my 30s.
It gave me the nudge to start this blog, which has been a revelation. It helped me find myself again.
I can share my love of literature and philosophy, whilst meeting some truly wonderful people online – especially Twitter.
Anyhow, thank you to Nikki Swift Reads for tagging me in this Book Tag! Do go and check her blog out – it’s a vibrant website with some really great content! Also, full credit to Ellyn @Allonsythornraxx as the original creator of this book tag!
What are you currently reading?
Currently, I’m reading an advance reading copy of Martin Amis’s Inside Story.
It’s a novel, but highly autobiographical (basically autofiction!) and I’m enjoying it .
Bizarrely, it’s my first experience of Amis. I say that because he was best friends with the late Christopher Hitchens (pictured left) – a man I greatly admired and whom I’ve read numerous of his books.
This does give me a fresh insight into Amis’s writing, however, so I look forward to sharing my full review of this one.
Inside Story is smug and incredibly self-indulgent. And yet I don’t entirely mind. Amis is a brilliant writer – his prose is very readable, making even the mundane seem somewhat extraordinary.
There is a bit too much ‘mundane’ though. It’s a chunky book that has a tendency to ramble in parts.
There’s a lot of experimentation with form – switching between 1st and 3rd person, often in the same portions of text; raising issues only to tell the reader that he’ll ‘return to it in 50 pages’ time; and a chapter where Amis muses on the merits of gendering countries with ‘he’ or ‘she,’ before transcribing a conversation between himself and his wife, as if two countries were literally speaking to one another.
This does lend to it feeling cobbled together – a papier-mâché book of sorts.
That being said, I’m only about a quarter of the way through so far and I’ve very much enjoyed Amis’s writing. I’d like to pick up copies of London Fields and Money when I’m done with this.
What is your favourite “stuck at home” activity?
This is an easy one!
Gaming – the perfect ‘stuck at home’ companion!
I’ve always been a prolific player of video games and in that respect, I’ve been pretty content in terms of hobbies during the 2020 lockdown. When I’m not reading, I’m either playing games on PC or Nintendo Switch.
I’ve recently started The Witcher 3, which is phenomenal, but I finally got around to playing Life is Strange a few months ago. If you’re into YA fiction, you’ll love this – even if video games aren’t typically your thing.
Final Fantasy is my true love though. The Final Fantasy franchise is so close to my heart and it always will be.
A book you’ve been meaning to read forever
The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie.
I’ve actually had it on my shelf since my undergraduate studies (circa 2012-2013) and I keep putting it off. I did actually start it a while ago, and got halfway through, but then I had a ton of research to do for my Masters dissertation, so I put it down!
Even though I’ve been stuck at home for most of the year, I still haven’t gotten around to reading it!
One day I’ll get around to finishing The Satanic Verses, but today is not that day.
An intimidating book on my to-read list
The Canterbury Tales, easily.
I bought it a few years ago, because I found a really nice edition of it, but I still haven’t gotten around to it.
I’ve heard horror stories about it from both my partner and my cousin (btw – check out her London Culture Blog, The Seventh Dial!), both telling me that it’s a pretty excruciating read.
That being said, I’ve put myself through reading Robinson Crusoe and The Alchemist so…how bad can it be?
Guess I’ll find out one day!
What are the three top-priority books on your to-read list?
1. Nick , Michael Farris Smith
Due in 2021, Nick is one of the books on my Netgalley ARC shelf. It’s a prequel of sorts to The Great Gatsby – one of my favourite books – focusing on Nick Carraway, the somewhat anonymous narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel.
I’m really curious about this one. I always found Nick to be a very thoughtful, introspective character, though of course overshadowed by the remarkable Jay Gatsby.
I do wonder if Michael Farris Smith will attempt to ape Fitzgerald’s prose, or write it entirely in his own style. Either way, I’m really looking forward to reading it and providing the author with feedback!
2. Leonard and Hungry Paul , Rónán Hession
At this point, I feel like the only person in the Book Twittersphere who is yet to have read Rónán Hession’s debut novel.
I purchased a copy a couple of months ago to support indie publisher Bluemoose Books, but I’m yet to get around to it. I bought it because The Sound Mirror was my first experience of Bluemoose Books and it was phenomenal.
Plus, Leonard and Hungry Paul is an award-winning piece of fiction, so I’m very excited to see what it’s all about!
3. Saving Lucia , Anna Vaught
Another from the Bluemoose vault, Saving Lucia was published earlier in 2020. It picks four historical women branded as lunatics (James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, among them) and questions what would have happened if they all went on an adventure that involved reshaping their pasts, presents, and futures!
I don’t know too much more about this book other than it has a lovely cover, but I’m really looking forward to reading it.
Recommend a short book!
Politics and the English Language by George Orwell.
Less a book, more a pamphlet or essay, Politics and the English Language is your definitive guide to cutting through the bullshit of political and media-driven discourse.
It’s also a great read for copywriters because it makes you think about exactly what you’re writing!
“The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash – as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting-pot – it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking.”
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
It’s Orwell’s polemic against the intentional use of language to mask atrocities – a must read if you’re into current affairs!
Recommend a long book!
The longest book I’ve ever read (which I awarded 5 stars) is The Count of Monte Cristo.
It’s easily one of the most epic pieces of literature ever written and, unlike many contemporary novels that span a ridiculous number of pages, it’s actually very well-paced.
In short, Edmond Dantés is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. The novel is his redemption story. It tells of his escape from a grim prison and how he exacts his revenge against those who wronged him and his family.
For the gamers among you, it’s somewhat comparable to Ezio Auditore’s story in Assassin’s Creed II, but far more epic!
What do you plan on reading next whilst stuck at home?
Leonard and Hungry Paul , for the reasons listed above!