Bout-of-books 21

Yes, I said I would participate in more read-a-thons this year, so kicking off with Bout-of-books, a week long read-a-thon. For once I’m going to make an effort to join in the daily challenges too, and I’ve already started my TBR pile!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Obviously like any other book lover I was given and also bought several books over the Christmas period, and I am saving these for the read-a-thon:


I’m not going to lie, that fact that the three that aren’t Charles Dickens will be very quick reads may have influenced my choices some what, as no matter what, managing to read more than one book during a read-a-thon can be a large task to a slow reader like me and this will help me feel more accomplished. I’m also hoping to find time to write a review for each one as this is something I don’t do enough of!

I’d love to hear what you’re planning on reading for Bout of Books and how you choose what to read?


Bout of Books round up

Aka, days 5-7..

So I didn’t do all that badly, I don’t think. I definitely made good progress particularly in finishing a couple of lurkers on my currently reading list.

Saturday I finished off The Stranger by Albert Camus, made all the more easier once I realised I had a physical copy to read lurking on a dark shelf, as the e-book version was just not very e-book friendly. Next up was a photography book that had a couple of essays in it – oh and a great quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson:


Sunday I got less reading done, as I had signed up to run the Oxford Town and Gown 10K Sunday morning (1hr 15m if you were wondering). Afterwards though in a very hot bath, i finished A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. The last few chapters were interesting enough giving me more ideas on what to read, but the thing that really bugged me about it was that for the first 30% of so of the book, the author kept heavily suggesting you read several other texts, which to me, misses the point of this series… but anyway, done with.


I now have the rather ominous task of writing a piece of criticism on a literary text for my evening class, that is due in about 10 days, which wouldn’t be half as ominous if I wasn’t away visiting family the entire weekend. Wish me luck!

Bout of Books Day 3-4

So my week of reading is not going quite as planned, I’ve been really busy as well as trying to fight off a stinking cold that is threatening to ruin my long standing plans to run a 10K this weekend. But I managed to find time to do the day 3 challenge for Bout of Books “5 Favourites” and with that I present 5 of my favourite book covers. I would say that a good cover design is definitely something that will make a book stand out – particularly when in a physical store (especially if the cover is embossed and made of a nice feeling paper), although buying online can be a visual game as well I guess.


Don DeLillo – is one of the newer, sexy Penguin Modern Classics covers that come in silver and white. I have loads of these actually, but this is a favourite because of the stereotypical images of Americana on the front. Top right is Tom Perrotta’s the Abstinence Teacher, not entirely sure what it was about this, perhaps the white border that complements the white trim of the shorts so well?

Road to nowhere – this was a Goodreads giveaway win, I’ve taken so many photos myself of this nature, roads with vanishing points, empty expanses. Also the cover is made with this really unusual matt paper, it feels very nice to hold, I think I liked the cover more than the story. The final two I bought together, they were on display at Daunt books in London, which many other lovely designed books. the Camus one is almost booklet ish, being around 30 pages in total, the Baudelaire cover attacked me because of the letterpress style type face, and the cover is slightly embossed, I have no idea whether it was traditionally printed by letterpress or whether it’s printed modernly to look vintage in style, either way I love it, unfortunately though the cover does not have any sort of protective film and therefore porous which means it’s already getting grubby from being in bag to and from work!

Day 4 of the readathon I didn’t get too much done again, I have my Critical Reading class on Thursday nights, so I spent my day checking out some poetry for a mini assignment. I went with Maya Angelou’s Women Work as we had to say what made the poem poetic, thinking about structure and language. I don’t really know much poetry thanks to school not managing to make it engaging (sorry, War Poetry was not interesting to this girl at 14), so it’s only in the last year (after going to a poetry reading) that I’ve had an interest. I feel like a complete novice as I don’t really know what a lot of the terms mean and keep having to look things up, but at least I’m learning something.

Bout of books day 1-2

So today’s reading has been interesting to say the least. My usual peaceful commute via bus into Oxford was disturbed by someone’s phone screeching out bagpipes music for the most of it.

Currently I’m trying to finish ‘The Art of Travel’ which I started during the Dewey’s readathon, however the current chapter on the Lake District and Wordsworth is boring me slightly meaning I’m finding it hard to push through…


Updating a day later, and it’s finished – here’s my brief ‘review’ from Goodreads

“One of those books where I’m kicking myself I didn’t read it earlier, it was everything I expected and more. Split into sections prefixed with ‘On’ such as On Anticipation or On the Sublime, each one with a little grid that displays the place(s) and the guide (s) that will be your travelling companions in that chapter. Looking at reasons why people started travelling, and why, and why people go where… there was only one chapter that I didn’t like (I absolutely hated in fact) which was the one with the Lake District (place) with Wordsworth (guide), as I don’t really like either. Kind of funny that my reasons for not liking the lakes were echoed in this book, around pre-conceptions.
Absolute must read for anyone interested seeing whilst travelling. “

This book has given me so much more to think about /research in relation to my art/photography work based on travel. The section on the Sublime had some interesting quotes from Edward Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, that excited me so much I’ve already ordered it from Amazon, in a month I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any excessive books (but I had a voucher so that makes it ok right?).

So after finishing on that high note today, it was straight onto We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a perfect readathon book, given that it was so quick to read (probably under 40 minutes). Based on a TED talk she gave a few years ago, she talks about her personal experiences in Nigeria, of women not being equal, about male friends who’ve not realised that equality is not yet ‘there’ until it’s slapped them in the face. I’d recommend this to everyone.

Readathon round up… and onwards

OK it’s a bit late in the day, but I’ve been busy sorting out prints for two exhibitions.

So my final tally for the Dewey’s Readathon was:

Finishing 1 book of 23 pages- The Sea Close By, by Albert Camus

73 pages of Bad Blood by Arne Dahl

138 pages of The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton 

Not as much as I hoped, but given how busy the last few weeks have been, managing to set aside that much time to read really helped.

I also found a couple more blogs to follow of fellow readathon-ers! (Hi ich lese  and Cat Litterary!) which is always nice, although sometimes I feel like I need a readathon style day to catch up with all the great blogs I follow.

Another great thing about the readathon was finding out about other readathons, so I hereby declare myself signing up to Bout of Books

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

So expect more bookish posts sometime soon.

Readathon Hours 4 – 12?

OK so technically we’re into hour 11, 9 for me as i started so late.. which makes me feel slightly better about that fact that I haven’t read as much as I intended.

I did read Albert Camus – The Sea Close By, although short (it’s actually two stories, 23 pages long), it wasn’t like a modern fiction novel that I could speed read, it required ingestion of the words and took a lot longer than anticipated. I did however enjoy it, but I think today I’ve spent entirely too much time checking out other people’s posts and challenges.. it’s like oh the clock is hitting the hour -a new challenge is due, and before I know it, there’s less than 30 minutes left in that hour.. Arrg! Not to mention an impromptu trip to the supermarket to get snack and stuff..

Arne Dahl - Bad Blood
Arne Dahl – Bad Blood

For my second book I chose Bad Blood by Arne Dahl, I feel like these translations are a long time coming compared perhaps to other Scandi/Nordic crime fiction. I struggled to find my books on Goodreads as well which was new to me and given that the TV versions of the book were first shown on BBC4 three years ago, it feels like there is some delay compared to others in the genre. An interesting point about this book series (for me at least) was realising that in the TV version they made the A Unit team leader a woman, same name, just swapped gender, I’m going to guess because the novel has such a male orientated cast and it needed evening out for TV? Also reading this reminded me to log into Duolingo and do my daily Swedish practice ( I think I can probably order a meal for for men and women, particularly if that meal includes turtle). My intention was to read ‘a few chapters’ before moving to something else, but I’m at chapter 10 already so I may just stick with it tonight, as i’m probably going to flake soon and read something different in the morning.

I also tried reading standing up tonight, mostly because I was trying to hit 10k steps today, so the only way was to read whilst ‘walking’ and a bit whilst dancing as I’ve been listening to 6 Music since about 8pm. My overall take home, whilst it certainly works, and keeps me awake, it also leaves me a bit unsteady on my feet – circuits of the living room particularly. Jogging on the spot is probably easiest to manage book in hand, but also the most boring. I’ve also reached that stage of “my eyes hurt because they’ve dried out” so contacts out, glasses on, eye drops being liberally applied, all in the name of reading just a few more pages before bed

Easter reading – Påskekrim

As not really being enamoured by Easter eggs, I find the chocolate a bit of a let down, like advent calendar style, the thing I’ve been most looking forward to with the long weekend was the chance to catch up on some reading. Yesterday I finished reading Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s Silence of the Sea which I haven’t yet written a review of, the tension had me gripped right until the last page, and it gave me chills at certain points it was so creepy! I loved it and need to get my hands on more of the series. I’m currently trying to hold off writing book reviews, mostly because I never feel like I can do it justice – do you give a run down of the whole plot? which could essentially include spoilers? if not how do you say what you enjoyed without giving away the story? thankfully I’m starting a course in a couple of week’s about Critical Reading, and part of that includes writing critically about what you’ve read, so I’m hoping this will help me improve in this area.

Next up on my list for this weekend is Torkil Damhaug’s Medusa – I have no idea what it’s about, I was buying some books from The Work’s and needed to buy a couple extra to take advantage of a deal, so searched for ‘Scandinavian Crime’ (one of my favourite genres if you hadn’t guessed already), and bought the handful they had.

Torkil Damhaug Medusa book
Torkil Damhaug’s Medusa

Then this morning I read this great article over at Visit Norway about  – the Norwegian tradition of reading crime books at Easter called Påskekrim (Easter crime), apparently came about in 1923 when two poor writers decided to try and cash in, by writing an Easter themed crime novel, that garnered loads of publicity and the rest as they say, is history.

So it was serendipity that I chose a Norwegian crime novel to read for Easter, and I think I’m going to over indulge in Påskekrim every Easter and I’d love to get some more recommendations in the comments.


Mid- point, 12 hours of reading

It’s been a long day. Being my first Readathon, I thought it was as much reading as possible on the 17th October kinda thing. But there is a fixed 24 hour period – mine started at 1pm (because of my time zone), I found out after getting up at 8:30, ON A SATURDAY!

Anyways, half way point passed, the first 12 hours were spent on 1 book, a very interesting book that made me think about lots of things, so combine that with eating, seeing what other people are up to on twitter and instagram, trying to complete challenges, blogging, being distracted by my husband, the TV, etc I’ve only made it through 25% ish of the book. And although that seems like a small amount, given that the book is covering maths, neurology and philosophy and lots of other stuff, that’s pretty good going.

However, I’ve now switched books, I remembered that I had an unfinished ebook one of my newly favourite authors – Elizabeth Hunter. If you like PRN check out her Elemental series and spin off series’ – I promise I will actually publish my review/ thoughts on this series & characters.. one day. Maybe before the year is out

Oh this is how tired I am, I realised after posting that my point of blogging was a mini challenge…

1. What are you reading right now?
Lost letters and christmas lights – Elizabeth Hunter (it’s part of a joint ebook release, I confess I haven’t read the other book)

2. How many books have you read so far?
2, completed, 0

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
The above book that I just started reading, or trying to finish Blinded Man by Arne Dahl tomorrow

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Plenty, mostly self imposed, ignored, or distracted.. I’m just trying to stay focused and sitting in my reading chair

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
When you check just the sheer amount of posts on instagram or twitter via the #readathon hashtag and realise how immense it all is, then you spot that several people are reading the same book, and go look that book up on Goodreads, then you realise you’ve lost half an hour online, again

Dewey’s 24 hour readathon

I only heard about this 24 hour Readathon event a few days ago via Book Riots, and as I love any excuse to curl up with a book – I decided to join in. It started about 15 minutes ago and I’m currently sat here typing. I guess I’ll update later in the day, I’m not sure of my exact approach or what ‘challenges’ involve yet. I’m hoping to get through a chapter of a few different books, as you can see – my ‘to read’ pile is getting ridiculous now.

pile of books on a table
Almost ready to topple over

Ok so 2 hours have passed and I’ve just found my first mini challenge:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Oxford, UK. It’s a pretty grey day out, so perfect for staying indoors and reading. I don’t intend to get out of my pyjamas if I can help it. It’s also the first day of having the heating on – hello impending winter.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I’m not sure which I’ll choose yet, possibly The Mandarins or The Wasp Factory

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
I hadn’t even thought about this, I guess I’ll be leaving the house after all, might treat myself to some pretzel pieces although they are notoriously messy and would mean greasy fingers on the pages

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I’m a bad blogger, I haven’t posted anything in almost a year. Plenty of ideas but way too good at procrastination

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
1st readathon, just looking forward to some solid reading time. And seeing what other readathon-ers are up to

Resolutley resolved…

… to have a better year than the last. Although most people I know say this, 2011 seemed to be a pretty depressing year all round (more recession, riots, even more crappy weather). I managed to start the year with a bang of the wrong sort, my hard drive that stores my photos went kaput and I lost about 6 months of photos that weren’t backed up – there’s a slither of a chance that a professional company can retrieve the data, but it will be costly.

So resolution 1.  to do a back up on a weekly basis – a new back up system that creates and stores 2 copies of everything on separate drives is on it’s way and an important lesson learned the very hard way.

2. Print more often and master my craft

Adana Press

Last year one of my resolutions was to spend more time in the print studio, I went on a letter press course, took part in a book fair and the 20:20 print exchange. Taking part in the print exchange introduced me to several print techniques I’d not tried before, so I’m hoping that Hot Bed Press will be re-running their solar plate etch course as well as experimenting more freely.

3. Read more often


This is one that crops up year after year, mainly as I always feel like I never have enough time to read, always buy new books (a couple a month at least, every month) and have ever growing piles. Also we haven’t had a ‘beach’ holiday for a couple of years and that seems to be the only time I make a dent in the bag log. Towards the end of 2011, I set a challenge to read a selection of books before the end of the year, and whilst I didn’t finish all of them, I read more than I would have normally. So in 2012 I’m going to aim to read 2 books a month, picking each 2 at the start.

4. Get back into film photography

Lomo Store

My film photography took a sharp nose dive this past year, in part to a my batch of B&W processing chemicals going off, which I haven’t had time/money to replace and with LCE in Manchester closing their labs making colour processing, especially medium format a suddenly pricier hobby. However Lomo have opened a store in Manchester, and although I probably wont be buying equipment from there, I’m hoping there will be an increase in demand for fairly priced processing that doesn’t involve posting across the Pennine’s (although how anyone will beat LCE’s £3 per film dev only, I don’t know). In addition to that, I also want to get back into printing – there’s a studio in Salford near Hot Bed Press that has a darkroom for hire, when I can get a satisfactory amount of photos to print hopefully I’ll be able to get in there.

5. Knitting & crafting

Knit One

about 18 months ago I taught myself how to knit and joined a knitting & crafting club with some friends, however I got more interested in my cross stitching than knitting and so I never got further than a scarf. This year I hope to progress to something involving a pattern and a few different stitches.

6. Finally, regular & prompt blogging. So often I start a blog post, get distracted, or hung up on .. stuff that I end up finishing blog posts weeks after an event I’m writing about, or end up getting bored of it. So I’m setting myself a target to do my write ups within 2 days of an event, as the information be fresh in my mind and I also really enjoyed the October wordpress post a day challenge that aims to get people writing regularly and concentrating on quantity over quality (odd concept but it works).