Bookish Discussions

Dear 2019…

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I’ve just woken up from a nap and I’m feeling slightly reminiscent.

I’ve always been one of those reflective people – looking at what I have achieved and how life has shaped me over the years. 2019 has been tough.

It was the year I really struggled with my pernicious anemia. I was diagnosed with it a few years ago but I never really felt any of the side affects until this year. Exhaustion and fatigue were my biggest enemy, especially during my dissertation research, where I lacked the energy to get out of bed for a week. I literally had to force myself to get up, get dressed and go to work. I didn’t touch my uni work though.

I’ve kinda come to terms with it now; I’ve started napping a lot. I’ll nap even when all I’ve done all day is walk my dog. I also stay in bed a lot of the time. If I’m not in work, you’ll find me under the duvet with a book. I need a good and long night’s sleep to properly function otherwise it’ll affect my energy throughout the week.

I also got out a bad relationship. I was in a relationship with this boy for three years. It wasn’t right, you know? We weren’t good for each other, but we stuck it out because it was familiar to us. I wasn’t the perfect girlfriend, I’ll admit, but all my issues sprung from insecurity and doubt. He wasn’t a very good person – emotionally abusive, a bad temper, irrational and manipulative. He felt attacked if I raised issues. I had to change – not him.

I’m glad I’m went through with it, though, because now I know how to be treated. I know not to settle for less, and I’ll voice concerns if I need to. I’m very lucky I found Carson this year. He listens and respects me. I don’t feel insecure or jealous. We can have time apart, but still want to spend time together. I’m allowed to meet his family and friends, which is something my ex wouldn’t let me do.

I’m happy.

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Bookish Discussions

Man Booker Prize 2018: Milkman

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Oh God, how do I even begin to formulate my thoughts on this…

Milkman is the story of an unnamed eighteen-year-old girl living in an unnamed city. She has attracted the unwanted and unavoidable attention of a powerful and frightening older man, Milkman. In this community, where suggestions quickly become fact, where gossip and hearsay can lead to terrible consequences, what can she do to stop a rumour once it has started? Milkman is persistent, the word is spreading, and she is no longer in control…

This was a very difficult read. It’s very modern in that sense. Anna Burns wants you to work for the deeper meaning of the story. She does not hand it to you on a plate, like your average nineteenth-century writer does (which, as you’ll know, is my fave type of read). The language is overly flowery and there’s some odd metaphors stuck in there. I was lost a lot of the time, but I’m thankful that the audiobook managed to keep me on track. I don’t think I would have finished it without the help of my free trial on Scribd.

But this difficulty added to the complexity of the novel. The jarring narration and the weird images made the core of the story all the more riveting. A teenage girl who’s livelihood is affected by gossip (about her sexuality) and is essentially being controlled by a man. She lives in fear of this man, wondering when he will next pop up. Milkman knows her routine; she evens quits running just to avoid him. The simple fact that women, especially young women, are forced to give up her hobby because a man has intruded in her space is a familiar one.

The feminist undertones were strong and powerful in this one.

The lack of names allows us, as readers, to place ourselves within this situation. To mark the similarities between our society and this unnamed one.

But is it unnamed? 

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Bookish Discussions

My Masters Experience | Victorian Literature:

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I’ve put off writing this for *so* long.

I didn’t want to admit that my university experience was finally over. But this Tuesday just gone, I graduated for the second time. I’m no longer a student.

For those of you who don’t know, I studied my undergrad degree in English Literature at Liverpool John Moores University. It felt right. I loved what I was studying, even if I found it hard, or if some of the books were boring. I was happy.

I didn’t want my education to end. I’m someone who likes to learn; likes to cultivate the mind. I knew I wanted to do a Master of Arts since second year. I knew I wanted to do it in something I loved, something I was passionate about, and that was Victorian Literature. So, I sent an application off to the University of Liverpool, who have a specific pathway in Vic Lit. I got accepted and I started my Masters in September 2018.

I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be mostly independent work. But I didn’t know just how hard it would be. You got no help. Tutors would say “you need to write at a higher level if you want to pass this degree”, but they wouldn’t tell you how to write at a higher level. I still don’t know. They expected some much from you and just left you in the dark.

I found it so hard. One of my teachers even laughed with joy at the prospect of making me cry over email, telling me that I’m not cut out for this degree if I don’t start “writing at a higher, more intellectual level”. He actually laughed and said “OH! I haven’t made a student cry in years!”. I knew, from that moment, I was on my own.

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