Although I am quite the fan of the ‘Currently Reading’ style post, it has been a few weeks since my last reading update so I thought I’d let you guys know what I’ve been reading lately. Also contained therein: the reason I’m not participating in Tome Topple for the first time since it started… I know, I know, it kills the completionist side of me that I won’t have “the full set” of Tome Topple rounds for the year but it must be done.
So you may or may not have noticed that my reading lately has been a bit… scatty, I think would be the best way to describe it. This is also why my blogging has been less than consistent, to say the least. As it draws to the end of the year, the nights are getting darker, and on most weekdays by the time I leave work at 5pm, it’s already dark so all I want to do is get home safely and snuggle up in my chair and do… not a lot, really. I love winter, I really do, but it definitely knocks my productivity. I spend more time indoors, I find myself making more excuses not to go outside (or to the gym), but does that mean I get more books read or more TV shows/films watched? Not necessarily. I can’t explain why but my productivity overall always seems to dip around this time of year. I have no scientific explanation for why this is, I just know it does, I feel lower and more sluggish and even my love for the holiday season can’t really change that. That’s why my reading is probably the most unpredictable when it gets to October, November, and December. That being said, I am now actively reading again, so I thought I would take a closer look at how my reading has ebbed these last couple of weeks as well as a peek at what book I’m reading right this second… well ok, not right this second because I’m typing but, believe me, if I could do both, I would!
The last week or so saw the conclusion of the House Cup Reading Challenge, a readathon which I signed up for and then mostly forgot I was participating in… oops. I know, I’m a bad participant. Even so, when it got to the last weekend of the Reading Challenge I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of productivity grip me and I was determined to finish at least the Main “Year” Challenges, even if I didn’t get to any of the Bonus Challenges.
And I did it! Admittedly a lot of my success was thanks to my decision to read graphic novels but, hey, there are no rules against that and we all do it when we’re struggling with a readathon! I ended up getting round to reading the remaining volumes of Saga so I am now officially all caught up and eagerly awaiting the next volume which I think is released in January. I’ve never been caught up with Saga before and for good reason… I didn’t want to have to wait for the next volume because that series has a habit of having something heartbreaking happen and then leave you on a cliff-hanger! January can’t come soon enough, to be honest.
Aside from Saga I also finally got to reading Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey which has been on my shelf for a while now. I’m not the biggest poetry connoisseur and I have no idea what the majority opinion is on poetry – more than anything poetry strikes me as one of the most subjective forms of writing. I’ve seen a lot of backlash against Kaur’s style, and that backlash upsets me a lot because it seeks to denigrate her style and claim that it’s not “real poetry” because it seems minimalist. Minimalist it may be, but Kaur’s style allows her to convey in perhaps even just ten words or less a beautifully crafted sentiment that encapsulates completely a feeling that the reader might have been unable to articulate themselves. I know there are many turns of phrase in her debut collection which struck me as I was speeding through (practically inhaling) this book and I’m sure I will come back to them to consider them some more. I may not have given it 5 out of 5 stars, but it was still a supremely enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
Speaking of thought-provoking reads, I also sneaked in a quick read of Adam Kay’s memoir This Is Going To Hurt which focuses on his time as a junior doctor in the NHS. Kay, now a comedy writer, dug out his old diaries of his time working as a doctor in order to share some of the ups and downs of the profession. As someone completely removed from any kind of healthcare career, I had no idea what to expect going into this book, but I am so glad I read it because it was every bit as hilarious, maddening, and touching as its reviews claimed it was. I had to stop reading many times to read out a section to my housemate because it was so candid but shrewd in its observations. It was also hilarious. And, sadly, it also shows how utterly brilliant our National Health Service and our junior doctors are – they work tirelessly and they are expected to go above and beyond what many of us in other professions do for our own jobs whilst they also are expected to take all of the flack from the government and certain politicians when they dare to suggest that maybe just maybe this is putting patient safety at risk and their contracts should be reconsidered. It was hilarious and it was horrifying and I think those two aspects of the book really helped to highlight each other.
Now, onto what I am currently reading with the promised explanation about Tome Topple. Quite out of the blue I began to stall in listening to the audiobook of The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman and whilst very slowly reading Naomi Novak’s Temeraire. The latter is definitely my thing in fantasy books but it’s a strangely slow paced book – has anyone else read it and thought this? I love it when I’m reading it but have no drive to pick it back up when I put it down?? But I’m still really enjoying its concept and characters? It’s very confusing. Anyway, the point is, I’ve stalled on both of these things (and the less we say about War and Peace, the better). So, suddenly, I was left with a dilemma of wanting to read but knowing if I had the drive to finish any of what I was allegedly “currently reading” – I happened to open the Kindle app on my phone and before I knew what was happening I’d clicked on, and was two chapters into reading, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Ever since I became obsessed by Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom I wanted to go back and re-read the Grisha trilogy, partly for nostalgia and partly because I wanted to check if I was still trash for Alina/The Darkling and in love with Nikolai (spoiler alert: yes, to both of those things).
So here we are, a few days later and I’ve inhaled my re-read of Shadow and Bone and am currently two thirds of the way through Siege and Storm with every intention of continuing straight on to the final book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising. As you might realise, none of these books are “tomes”, that is books over 500 pages. I don’t intend to put this re-read on hold for the sake of participating in Tome Topple. Because as much as I adore that readathon, I think it would be silly of me to stop myself from fully immersing myself in something I am loving re-reading to instead force myself to read a 500+ page book that I’m only partially interested in reading at this very moment. That, my friends, is a sure-fire way for me to plunge myself into the dark, dark world of a reading slump. So no Tome Topple for me this round, as much as it pains me to not be taking part and to be left, standing outside in the proverbial cold, whilst I see everyone else indoors and lovely and warm enjoying the glow of Tome Topple. Next time, guys, I’ll be there with bells on.
Because, right now, as I’m re-reading Siege and Storm, I’m struck by how much I adore Leigh Bardugo’s characters and world-building. Don’t get me wrong, objectively speaking, the Six of Crows duology is a much stronger series in terms of pacing, plotting, world building, character development, and the writing itself. But I can’t help but thoroughly enjoy this re-read of the Grisha trilogy because it’s what started the entire Grishaverse. I am re-discovering my love (and hate) for the characters and, I think, I am appreciating the main character, Alina, a lot more than I ever did when I first read the series back in 2015. Whenever I see a female first-person narrator in this kind of book I always shy away at first because they can so easily be what I don’t like about YA fantasy and turn into a self-obsessed, trope-ridden cliche of what the “YA heroine” is. I used to think Alina was pretty much this, so I begrudged having to experience this entire story from her point of view. However, I didn’t give her much of a chance when I first read this trilogy, so I’m trying to be kinder now on this re-read and to appreciate her for more than just her huffy replies to Nikolai’s snarking… although that is, I’ll admit, pretty damn satisfying to read too so I’ll just enjoy it whilst it lasts.
(Even so, I know by the end of the third book I will still think “omg wtf is wrong with you Alina, HIM of all people. Really??!” but, hey, we can’t have everything in life now, can we?)
Please do let me know in the comments below, what are you currently reading? What did you finish reading recently and did you enjoy it? And what book do you think you’re going to pick up next?