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by Aldous Huxley

I have been meaning to read this book for years so it is Book 37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to.

I audiobooked this book and I am not sure that was the best idea.
I drifted between being really enthralled by Huxley’s ideas and loving his satirical poke at the cost of a ‘perfect’ society, and thinking it was really rather tedious and pointless. Maybe had I been reading rather listening this would not have happened. But I have tried to read it a few times and drifted off to other books so maybe its just not a good match – this book and I.

However, when I was enjoying the book, I really enjoyed it. I think the world Huxley created in the 30s is interesting and not completely implausible now. I really liked the revelation of the Director’s attitude towards the islands of banishment – showing, perhaps, that no one in society actually believes in the rules and mores of society, but rather choses to follow them for ease of life.

Even in a perfectly created world, in one where humans are designed and drugged and controlled – even then individual thoughts will occur. The human spirit will out.

That’s what I got from this book.

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by Agatha Christie

I read this as the book set in the decade I was born – Book 36.

I have never read a Christie and this is not a typical one. No whodunit, no Miss Marple and no Poirot.

Instead a chilling, cold, calculated thriller with a twist I did no see coming, despite expecting one.

The story is about a poor man who marries a rich woman and they build their dream house. This goes wonky eventually but explaining what and how would be a terrible spoiler.

But what the book is really about is greed and love, murder and betrayal. Christie takes you down a not unfamiliar path – until she turns you around and you are not where you thought you were.

Most of the book is spent creating the world in which the actual story takes place at the end.

I will say no more – just go and read this

That is was published in 1967 is evident only in how much £300 is considered, in how woman are thought to need looking after and the now unacceptable way of referring to travelling people as gypsies in derogatory and stereotypical ways.

Beyond that, the themes, passions and events of the story are as relevant today as they were then. I felt occasionally that I could be reading a Barbara Vine or any other author creating twisted tales of undesirable human nature.

Well worth the time it took to read this 300 page book.

I really did like it.

by John Green and David Levithan

This is my book for one written by two authors – Book 18

What a wonderful book that left me grinning and feeling fabulous. It’s a YA book I guess, in that the characters are teenagers, but I don’t read much YA so I am not sure if that’s the criterion.

Anyway, the titular Will Graysons are two teenager boys with the same name who tell their own stories, each written by a different author.

Each chapter is a different boy’s story and the reader sees their lives rolling out until they collide. And when they do it is simply marvellous.

The supporting cast of characters are wonderful and the kind of people you wanted to know as a teenager. Their lives are messy and complicated but ultimately positive, like those of most teenagers.

The characters were believable as teenagers even as they dealt with some pretty grown up stuff – mental health, sexuality, loneliness, love, friendship, betrayal and musicals!

This book is about love and friendship, and song and forgiveness. It’s an absolute delight that I read over two days, ignoring all my chores and other responsibilities.

5 stars all the way!

by Bret Easton Ellis

This is my anti-hero book for the book challenge – Book 9

And boy is Bateman ever an anti-hero.

So much has been written about this book I think the only valuable comment I could make is my emotional reaction to it

It made me sad. Really really sad. Mostly for Bateman but also for all the invisible interchangeable people in the society.

I did the expected and predictable eeeeuw and shudder when reading some of the scenes, and I really was bothered by the casual abuse of animals but still, my over-riding emotion was not disgust or horror, but sadness.

All Bateman wanted to do was connect, to be seen and to see. And of course he was off his bloody rocker in a very real and scary way – but the vulnerability under his violence is what continues to haunt me, rather than his violence.

Even his obsession with what people wore waned towards the end of the book, growing less detailed.

The scene in the Hamptons made me want to weep for him – he says he tried so hard to be normal, to do normal things like play tennis and hike – and then ate scavenged sea life in the middle of the night. No one doing that is having fun – that’s a horrible internal torture.

What happens to a little boy that he turns into Patrick Bateman?
And how does a society exist in which people like him get lost in the mass of humanity? No one listened to him – and he told everyone over and over again.

It’s not fantasy to have people fall so completely through the cracks of society – it happens all the time. How much do we not listen to the cries of help from others because it may interfere with our lives?

Is one madman to blame or are we all, as members of society?

This book has really disturbed me but not for the reasons and in the way I expected from reading other reviews and comments. I am sad and ashamed of society for all the real Batemans who never are seen or helped until their lives spiral out of control and into deaths.

A most profound book.

 

 

 

by L.M. Montgomery

I completely missed this book as a child. I didn’t even really know of its existence until I visited Prince Edward Island a few years ago.

Fast forward to an audible subscription and the tedious task of unpacking a home and Anne became my companion for days of really unpleasant work.

And what a companion! One could not really ask for a nicer human being to spend time with while completing any task. Right from the start I was enraptured by the little Anne’s spirit. You just know that in real life she would drive you a bit mad but also make you smile and shake your head.

The joy of this book is not even really the narrative but rather the development and joy of Anne. She dominates it completely and what she does matters so much less than how she does it.

And she holds up pretty well in 2017 too – we need more Annes in the world really.

My best thing about this book though is that I sent a mail to my stepmother in Canada telling her how I enjoyed it. (Side note – she only became my stepmother when I was an adult and she married my mother.) She lived on PEI and her three daughters were born there and all love Anne. Her reply to me was

“Yay – now all my daughters are Anne-wacko”

Isn’t that such an Anne thing to think and say?

This is the book I have chosen as my book with alliteration in the title (book 22)  for the reading challenge for 2018 I started already

I experienced the book via audiobook.

 

I enjoyed this book and really enjoyed the audio rendition of it.

It uses the narrative technique of each character telling their own story as personally experienced. In addition, it jumps between before and after although what the point at which before becomes after is not revelled until quite far into the story.

 

It’s about a young woman, the titular girl, who is kidnapped and then hidden in a cabin with her kidnapper for months.

But what it is really about is secrets and convoluted family arrangement, and love – both the lack and presence thereof.

 

The story, and a complex set of emotions and relationships are slowly revelled as we work towards the moment of resolution. The story certainly kept me going towards that moment, wanting to understand what exactly happened. The before and after don’t match until you understand what that moment is. And then you are aghast.

 

But wait, that’s not all. In the last section of the book Kubica does not slack off but keeps you wide eyed and amazed.

Reading Challenge

I have got lazy with reading because Netflix, mostly
At the end of every year there is an abundance of  reading challenges for the following year. Some interest me more than others because I like structure and constructive parameters.

But for no challenge anywhere can i read a book with Fabio on the cover – life is too short to read what I consider crap. And all of the challenges include books, categories, genres or prompts I am simply not interested in.
Until I found the Popsugar challenge on Goodreads

1. A book made into a movie you’ve already seen
2. True Crime
3. The next book in a series you started
4. A book involving a heist
5. Nordic noir
6. A novel based on a real person
7. A book set in a country that fascinates you
8. A book with a time of day in the title
9. A book about a villain or antihero – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
10. A book about death or grief
11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym
12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist
13. A book that is also a stage play or musical
14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you
15. A book about feminism
16. A book about mental health
17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift
18. A book by two authors – Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
19. A book about or involving a sport
20. A book by a local author
21. A book with your favourite colour in the title
22. A book with alliteration in the title – The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
23. A book about time travel
24. A book with a weather element in the title
25. A book set at sea
26. A book with an animal in the title
27. A book set on a different planet
28. A book with song lyrics in the title
29. A book about or set on Halloween
30. A book with characters who are twins
31. A book mentioned in another book
32. A book from a celebrity book club
33. A childhood classic you’ve never read – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
34. A book that’s published in 2018
35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
36. A book set in the decade you were born – Endless Night by Agatha Christie
37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
38. A book with an ugly cover
39. A book that involves a bookstore or library
40. Your favourite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges
41. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school
42. A cyberpunk book
43. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place
44. A book tied to your ancestry
45. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title
46. An allegory
47. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you
48. A microhistory
49. A book about a problem facing society today
50. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

I will never read 50 books in a year – it is just not possible anymore
Because Netflix 🙂
and work, and life and family

so i am not doing this as a 2018 challenge, but as an as-long-as-it-takes-me challenge
And i am going to start reviewing again because i have missed that

Currently reading American Psycho for book 9, and listening to Anne of Green Gables for book 33
Wildly different experiences making my brain fizz and pop

Any suggestions are welcome

I take photos of my food.

I do.

And I share those photos on social media.

I share them because I want people to like what the food looks like and even say ‘ooooh purdy food’ sometimes.

mixed

I don’t share photos of all my food – curry and rice is hard to make look like anything but slop, and sometimes my meals are too mono-coloured to be pretty to look at. Also, dinners are hard to photograph because it is dark, and flashes and food do not go well together.

Those exceptions aside, my food does generally  look good. And it tastes good too.

breakfast-and-lunch-8-feb

But I think it tastes good because I make sure it looks good.

 

When deciding on what I want to eat I consider how the colours would look together, how the plate would be composed, what the balance between items would be. The result is that I eat all the colours of the vegetable rainbow pretty much every day. I never overcook anything because grey, soft vegetables just look gross whereas crispy bright ones still retaining their colour look good in photos. A few slices of pepper and some cherry tomatoes on the side of avo on toast takes a green meal into a different realm of colour – and taste and nutrition. Nutritional yeast on a heap of roasted okra and baby aubergines turns the browns into something that both looks tasty and is actually good for me.

dav

I have always been an adventurous cook and that has continued to develop now that I look at new ingredients both in terms of what they may taste like, and what they would look like. My desire to explore new shapes, colours and textures in images has exposed me to new flavours and dishes.

dav  sdr

 

I probably eat less now (but still enough – I used to be a right piglet) because the plates that work well for photos are not huge dinner plates, but smaller, somewhere between side and dinner plate sized. (I think they may be called fish plates – but I dunno really.) If I am hungry I will have four, five, six meals in a day, but all on smaller plates. This smaller, more frequent eating works much better for me than three big meals, with seconds, a day.

 

I also take longer to make my food which stills me three times a day. Rather than a packet of crisps and a chocolate at my desk, I get up and prepare fresh food for myself. I don’t spend hours doing it but I have discovered that stopping for those twenty minutes to make the meal energises me for an afternoon at my desk. I stand, I stretch, I twist, move, bend and pick things up. I also talk to my dogs and sometimes even go outside, notice a new flower blooming, slip into the pool for a second or just breath, arms in the air, while I wait for something to heat, cool, cook or warm up.

I almost always eat at my desk because I spent the time preparing the meal, but I still get time away from work.

I find the process of preparing food meditative. I just stop the noise in my head, calm the thoughts, ignore the work stress, and instead, for a short period of time I just cook, prepare, slice, mix and arrange an attractive plate of food.

collage-2

Breakfast is the meal I most like photographing and so, for the first time in my life, I am eating a proper, healthy breakfast every morning. This may be related, or not, but also, for the first time in forever, I don’t get hangry when I get hungry. Maybe having breakfast is something that works for my body and it took wanting pretty photos for me to work that out.

 

I never would have thought that joining the IG and FB food sharing brigade would eventually have this effect on me.
What a win

bad feminist

what an amazing book – another in my no-cis-white-straight-male authors challenge of 2017
I read it on my kindle but will buy a hardcopy because I want to reread these essays, and make marks in the book and underline bits I love.
I want to pick it up and delve into Gay’s words again and again

In these essays Gay looks at many aspects of popular culture through her own, admittedly imperfect, lens. And in doing so makes the critical thought processes she follows available to more of the general public. Because she says that it is hard to get it right all the time, hard not to be a bad feminist sometimes, she creates a space in which it is okay to realise, acknowledge, and then hopefully work on, your own flaws, weaknesses and bad feminism.

We can all only become better feminists if we examine where we fall short, and why.
And, as Gay says, better a bad feminist than no feminist at all

Love love loved this book
I am going to read it again, this time stopping to watch the movie Gay is talking about, read the book, engage with the pop culture.

And i will add reviews and comments on each essay as I go along. This is to multi-faceted a book to receive a single review

1 month report card

So – it’s been a month – a whole month of plant based eating

and………

 

I feel amazing, I have lost a few kilos, the black rings under my eyes are so much lighter than they have ever been, I feel confident and proud of myself, I feel strong and capable.

 

I am loving the food I eat and I never feel like I have over-eaten

I don’t wake up in the morning or go to bed at night angry with me for having eaten crap all day

I am less interested in drinking and my smoking has diminished drastically

I am on the path to fitness because I want to be, not because I have to or for punishment for eating/being fat/looking horrible

 

I eat what I want, when I want – and I eat lots.

I am hungry quite a lot but then I just eat. So I am eating three proper meals and two snacks a day

I get hungry but I never get hangry

 

I have met and connected with amazing people online and in real life

I have fed meat eating and vegetarian friends vegan food they have been amazed by

Dammit – I’ve made food I have been amazed by

breakfast-and-lunch-8-feb collage-2

mixed

My days start earlier and are longer because I have more energy

I sleep better and wake up better

My skin is happier and my joints don’t ache

 

I have discovered new products I like – like seaweed and miso paste and dried mushroom

sdr

I have learnt that it is better to create vegan means than to try to adapt meat ones

But I have also learnt that you can adapt meat containing meals so that everyone looks to be eating the same meal – and this is important sometimes so everyone is seen to be sharing the communal experience of eating

 

I have found amazing support among my friends – even those who do not understand what I am doing or why

I have had meals made especially for me without a noise or fanfare

I’ve watched my meat-eating partner reading the ingredients on a packet before suggesting something might be to my liking

 

This may be about the animal but the benefits to me are incredible.

 

Viva plant based diets – Viva