A Question Not Worth Asking

I’ve decided to go on a bit of a graphic novel binge. And yes, I have been counting them on my 2018 Reading Challenge List, even though they only take less than an hour to read. Of course I have wondered whether I am really allowed to count them, as perhaps they are not proper books, but I decided I was as a I hate book snobs.

I’m sure you’ve met a book snob. They’re the ones who only read ‘real literature’ – prize winners and 19th Century novelists, books for adults. They’re also the ones who think YA is a genre and shun the Dymocks Popular 100 list and wouldn’t be caught dead buying a book in Big W. They’re nothing short of my worst nightmare.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say YA isn’t real writing I could probably have bought every YA book ever written by now. And it’s mad exponentially more annoying by the fact that the people who deride YA sing the praises of picture books and Pixar shorts, as if by adding an image you make it infinitely more high brow. It’s the same. It’s people writing for their audience. Just because I don’t fit the age demographic anymore doesn’t mean I don’t get to read it.

Length and diction should not be the sole criteria by which you judge the sophistication of a text. What about audience? And purpose? And enjoyment level of the reader? Charles Dickens is lauded, but by god reading through his dialect is a slog. The same goes for Shakespeare, a rant I have already had on this blog this year.

I think a question also surrounds the whole audiobook thing. Are they really books? Can you count that you have read them, when in actual fact, someone is reading to you? This is where my own book snobbishness lays. Of course, in the end they should be counted because narrative started in the oral form and who can argue with history?

I guess the question that does need to be asked is – Why does it matter what we read? It’s been edited. The sentences make sense. The punctuation is correct. Who cares if it’s a trashy romance or an oven manual, as long as it’s not some scribble over a snapchat.

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Good Enough to Eat

So I think I might be becoming vegetarian.

Or at least a two night a week, maybe lunches too, vegetarian.

I just read the most amazing book.

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And don’t tell me you can’t read a cookbook. You can. Especially this one. Each recipe is introduced by the author, with some helpful do’s and don’ts and some ideas about when to eat it and what to substitute in for ingredients that may not be seasonal. What I love most about these recipes is that they don’t seem to be vegetarian. They just all don’t have meat in them. And they don’t all have a hundred ingredients per recipe, nor do they include weird and rare ingredients that you would have to trek to the Himalayas for. It’s just easy food; easy on the eye, easy on the waist, and easy on the environment (Yes, that is an Oxford comma, I like them).

I’ve only actually made one recipe out of the book so far

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Vegetable filled soda bread. But I’ve made two of them. The first (and smaller piece) is exactly how the book says to do it; spelt flour, carrots, and what not. The second is my Mrs Cropley version because I ran out of carrots and pumpkin seeds. So it’s a carrot, sweet potato and sunflower seed version. Still awesome.

I’m planning of cooking most of next week’s meals out of this thing. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

#readharder

The plan was to read a book every day of January. I didn’t quite get there. Hence why a plan is called a plan. I did end up reading twenty books, which I feel pretty chuffed about.

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These are the books I read for January. I still haven’t put them into the categories for the #readharder challenge I do at work because I just wanted to read for fun. A lot of the time last year I felt I was just reading to tick a box and I kept reading things I didn’t like because they fit in a spot that was hard to fill. It meant I didn’t feel like I was actually reading for me. So I started this year just reading things that I didn’t get to, or things that I bought over the holiday break, or were given to me as Christmas presents. Of course, the list is always in the back of my mind, I just don’t want to be a slave to it.

The problem I have found with this approach, though, is that if a book is not particularly memorable I may forget what it was about and, therefore, which category it might fit into. I think what I will do is categorise at the end of the month. So they will still be somewhere in my brain, but I don’t need to worry as I go.

I’ve already started my reading for February too. As I’ve returned to work I think a book a day, even twenty in the month is going to be a little ambitious, so I’m thinking I’ll set the goal at ten. For February this is still a push, but for the other months it will be quite achievable. Reading this month so far has consisted of:

both finished on the same day, yesterday.

I re-read Frankenstein because I had to. It has it’s own category on the reading challenge, number 50. I think it’s because it’s like 200 years since it was first published or something like that. I didn’t love it the first time I read it (for school) and it certainly hasn’t grown on me in the interim. I used it as my going to bed book because the print is so tiny and the plot just drags on. Put me to sleep every time. I must say the ending of this novel is probably the most anti-climactic I have ever read. I get it’s supposed to be moralistic and all, but

go into the northern Arctic and think about what you’ve done you naughty monster

just doesn’t really cut it.

I also finished Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson this month too. I wanted to read it because it has been turned into a TV show for the NITV network. It was a different kind of novel. The way it is narrated is odd, but also oddly works. And there is this really good idea in it about “sit a while”. So when you have a problem, go into nature and connect with it and mull over what you need to do. And after you will see what to do and feel better. I love this idea of “sit a while”. I know I get too caught up in the stress and worry of life and to just let it mull and know that everything will be ok is such good advice. The other concept I love out of this book is that described in the title “grace beside me”, and that is the calm you get from connecting with the natural world around you and the peace you feel when you come to terms with your problems. Both are used like mantras in this novel and I am totally going to adopt them as well.