December 2018 reading round-up

Lego Christmas train and Christmas books
Lego Christmas train and Christmas books.

I love Christmas and New Year, but I really don’t enjoy the long build-up and the pressure that comes with it. Which is why running away to Japan last year was both perfect and a little bit sad.

This year we spent just a few days at my Dad’s and didn’t do any of the country walks we usually would. We’ll have to go back for another visit soon to remedy that.

I did, as always, get lots of books for Christmas, which I’ll blog about soon. I want to read them all right away.

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Discovering Hallyu

The Heirs

I have just finished watching The Heirs (2013), and for the first time with a K-drama I don’t want to give it a proper review, even though there is a LOT that I could say about it. It just has so many problems and I fear a review would only encourage other people to watch it. Which has got me thinking more generally about my K-drama fixation.

It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that this past few months I have immersed myself in K-drama, and generally become super-interested in Korean life and culture. The Korean Wave (Hallyu) has most definitely found me. But why would a feminist like me swoon over these shows that are not only repetitive and cliched, but commonly outright misogynist and selling dangerous ideas to the Korean youth they are aimed at?

First, let me back up the second part of that question with some examples. K-dramas are all about romance, but that romance usually begins with a man who is in a position of power over the woman (in almost every case I’ve seen the man is super-rich while the woman is poor) repeatedly grabbing her wrist and dragging her around; claiming ownership of her when she has not expressed any interest; and forcibly backing her into kisses that she does not want or respond to. Even more worryingly, said woman then always falls for the man in question and looks back on those forced kisses as beautiful moments.

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Reading round-up November 2018

Photo of a woman with a book and umbrella
CC0 Evelyn from Pexels

How are we this far through the year already? Time has flown and I have done very little of anything. But after October’s abysmal attempts, I did do better on the reading front. I decided to kickstart my reading brain by starting with some comics. Not that all comics are easy reading – Sandman definitely isn’t – but some of them are, and they were just what I needed. Tim started me off with some old Avengers comics in the Marvel app, and then I picked some trade paperbacks off my TBR. It was a good strategy.

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Book subscriptions

Book and a Brew box
Book and a Brew box.

I’m not generally on top of the latest trends, but I couldn’t help but notice that book subscriptions are in right now. There are suddenly hundreds to choose between, from local, national and international sources. I think the first one I ever heard of was from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, probably my favourite bookshop. Over the last few years I have seen lots of online-only offerings, often specialising in a certain genre or also acting as a form of book club. And then in the last two weeks a new bookshop called Storysmith Books opened right here in South Bristol and almost immediately launched its own range of subscriptions.

Book subscriptions work in different ways – some are personalised, some come with book-related merchandise, some tell you in advance what books you’re getting – but the basic premise is the same. You pay upfront for a certain number and frequency of book parcels.

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October 2018 reading round-up

Bulrush tasting menu

I ended last month swimming in the Med, reading in beautiful gardens, eating Neapolitan pizza and drinking Ischian wine. I ended this month eating delicious Michelin-starred food right here in Bristol (if you click on the pic above and go to my Flickr page, you can read what all the courses were at the very excellent Bulrush). And the wine might not have been made two miles from where I drank it, but it was pretty damn good. So being back home isn’t so bad (but I still miss holiday).

I have started three or four books since coming back from holiday, but finished none of them. Maybe I need to set aside a day for nothing but reading sometime soon – a good old-fashioned read-a-thon. That would be nice.

Lack of reading aside, this month I watched a couple more K-dramas – Love in the Moonlight and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon – and I also went to the cinema for the first time in ages, to watch the excellent biopic First Man.

Here’s to a happy November.

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Long time, no blog

Paris
Tim and I at the start of the holiday.

I know, I have been horribly absent. Tim and have been on holiday, and I know I usually blog when we go away, but this time I needed to fully switch off from the world – which I did. We went to Reading (university reunion), Paris, Milan (briefly), Naples, Ischia and Pompeii. Which sounds packed for two weeks, but eight days of that were spent on a resort on Ischia doing very little indeed and it was pretty nearly perfect.

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September 2018 reading round-up

Shakespeare-and-Co

Ah, September was definitely a better month. Work continued to be hectic but my health has greatly improved and we ended the month by going on an awesome holiday. See above for highlight number one – I finally made it to Shakespeare & Co! I was surprised to find myself emotionally affected by walking through its upstairs rooms, seeing the old photos of previous residents and the camp beds made up for current occupants.

While we were in Italy the transition from summer to autumn happened in earnest. I love autumn. Happy October, folks!

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August 2018 reading round-up

Root

It’s going to be a short list this month. Mostly because I have been too tired to read, partly because I have been wolfing down soapy high-school TV dramas on Netflix instead of reading. But that does use far less brain. I’m also most of the way through the final part of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, so maybe the September book list will be longer than two. Maybe.

Most notable this month was mine and Tim’s 16-year anniversary. We went for a delicious meal at Root in Bristol, which I highly recommend (see pic above). It started life as a chicken shack but they couldn’t get a supply of free-range chicken that they were happy with so they switched to a mostly vegetarian menu. It’s a brave move and I think it’s paid off. I hope they manage to stick around.

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On music and photography

Untitled

The lupus flare continues. Reading is a struggle. Even harder is conversation. It’s taken me a week to write this post. Being coherent is tough.

When I’m in a flare the things I enjoy doing are heavily restricted. I can watch TV and films if they’re plot-heavy and/or on the silly side, but I can’t concentrate enough for slow, serious or complicated (Brooklyn Nine Nine for the win!). I find social media overwhelming and really only check into Twitter regularly for the cute animal photos and videos. I can listen to podcasts for short periods but I lose concentration easily.

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July 2018 reading round-up

Reading woman (portrait of artist's wife) by Ivan_Kramskoy
Reading woman (portrait of artist’s wife) by Ivan Kramskoy, 1863.

This has not been my most prolific reading month, and it might be my worst month yet for reviewing the books I read. But on the plus side I really enjoyed them all.

My lupus has been flaring, so I have watched a lot of junk TV. But I have squeezed in some “high culture” too. We went to see An Ideal Husband at the Theatre Royal in Bath, which was a lot of fun. It was a transfer of one of those West End productions with an all-star cast and generally I don’t find them to be as good as the star-free plays I see more often, but there is a certain pleasure in seeing famous faces up close.

I also watched the Netflix special everyone’s been talking about: Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. It is genuinely brilliant. It’s funny and upsetting, smart and different.

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