Saturday, 30 November 2013

On My To-Read Pile & Bloggers' Book Swap


My current 'to-read' pile.

A couple of months ago now the lovely Rosie had the excellent idea of setting up a bloggers' book swap; she paired us all up and the plan was to send the other person two books that you've read and loved, to try out the other person's books and talk about them. As I've written only about a million times on here I absolutely adore reading. It's become something that I can't go a day without doing, not having a book on the go just feels wrong. So I was very excited to sign up for this and try it out.

I was paired up with Lianna and received my books from her yesterday, along with an adorable card. We've been emailing back and forth and I'm hoping that she'll love the books I sent her as much as I did when I read them. I sometimes wish that I could erase reading some of my favourite books from my memory, to be able to go back and read them in the same way I did for the first time, because you never get that same feeling again with the excitement of being completely immersed in a book for the first time. Anyway, not the point, on with the actual point of this post..



Lianna sent me One Day and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I actually read One Day a couple of years ago now and I loved it, so at least I know that Lianna and I probably have a similar taste in books because although so many people loved One Day, I know many others who didn't understand what the big deal was, and I couldn't put it down when I was reading it.

In case you're interested, here's the blurb of One Day by David Nicholls. "You can live your whole life not realising that what you're looking for is right in front of you. 15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?"

I thought Nicholls wrote brilliantly in this book; it is heartbreaking and witty and wonderful. Interestingly (well I think it is!), I tried to read The Understudy, also by David Nicholls, not so long ago and I found it really difficult to get into and gave up after a while. Has anyone else read it? Maybe his best is in One Day. I would definitely recommend One Day, the film adaptation is nothing compared to the book although I did enjoy it as well.

I've never read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson but like most people, I have heard tons about it. From what I've seen of it it sounds like an extremely interesting story and I can't wait to give it a try. Here's the blurb. "Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption." 


These are the other books on my pile at the moment. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was given to my mum as a birthday present by one of her best friends. He told me it's his favourite book ever and that we both absolutely must read it and I've again heard so much about it that I'm looking forward to giving it a try myself. "In one of the most acclaimed novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life." 

It seems like everyone and their dog has read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, quite honestly I don't know how I've got away with not reading it sooner. The film adaptation is coming out soon I believe and, as always, I refuse to see the film before reading the book so I thought it was time to hurry up and read it! I haven't yet but from what I have heard I have no doubt I will fall in love with this book as much as everyone else has. "You are going to die. 1939. Nazi Germany. The Country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall."

I might be absent over the next couple of weeks because I have mock exams and am busy busy busy as usual in the run up to Christmas, but I'll hopefully be back to normal very soon.

So there you have it. What have you been reading lately? I hope you all have a lovely weekend!


Sunday, 24 November 2013

On The Power Of Now

Every Friday lunchtime at school I go to a Philosophy/Ethics club which is just open to and run by sixth formers. They come up with the topics, usually in pairs and present them to us for us all to discuss. A couple of weeks ago I went to one about Eckhart Tolle's book 'The Power of Now' which is about the power of living in the moment and appreciating the present instead of getting caught up on the past or in the future which we so often do as humans.

From here

Now I cannot claim to be an expert on this subject because I haven't actually read Tolle's book yet but I found what the girls at school told us and the discussion that emerged from it incredibly interesting and it hasn't quite left my mind since. Firstly we talked about how we tend to be always complaining about things; typically British in that we so often end up complaining about how terrible the weather is as well as many other things. Sometimes it's an easy conversation/small talk topic with someone you don't know and other times we're just complaining for the sake of it.

Now we're all guilty of complaining and it's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just our human nature. Why should we be positive all the time? I agree that optimism tends to make us happier but a moan now and then to get some things that are irritating you out of your system probably won't do any harm. What really interested me was when we got on to the topic which is apparently discussed in great detail in the book that we never really consider that usually nothing is lacking to us in the present. We are very lucky in our society compared to others.

If you are sitting there, wherever you are, and you just think to yourself for a moment 'what is actually lacking from my life at this precise moment in time?' the truth is, or at least was for me anyway, that there wasn't really anything. Of course things could be better, they almost always could be, but when I was sitting there at my school, having just eaten lunch and talking about a topic that really interested me, I realised that nothing was actually lacking from my life.

I might rather be at home with my friends or Harry, watching a film and relaxing, not having to go home and write an essay but when I do have to do that, nothing is actually lacking from my life; I have a computer and books and through writing the essay I'm learning, I'm not in horrible pain or starving for food or in a life threatening situation. And this has actually really helped me over the past few weeks. It's coming up to mock period and I was a bit stressed out about it all last weekend, but the truth is, when reminding myself to think that nothing is actually lacking from my life in this exact moment I am much happier and that's great.

From here

I don't mean to imply that we don't have problems, because of course we do and they're significant and difficult as always, but through thinking in this way it's helped me to worry less about stuff. Anyone who knows me well knows that I could worry for England (I get it from my mum annoyingly), I just find myself worrying sometimes and can't seem to stop. But the past couple of weeks since discussing this, every time I start to I remember to think about the precise moment I'm living in and that I really am okay.

I'll definitely add this book to my reading list as although Tolle looks a bit crazy to me on the surface, the book sounds like it will be really interesting. I'm sorry if this was just a complete blur to read, I hope it makes sense and that if it does you find it interesting rather than concluding that I'm a crazy lady! But even if none of what I've written makes any sense, I do think that every once in a while we should try to not get so hung up on the future because it's not here yet, or on the past because there's nothing we can do to change it, so we should just concentrate on the now to try and be our best selves.

Friday, 22 November 2013

On My Sunday (And A Bit Of Saturday)

I've had so much working lately (boo a levels) that I have been trying to spend one day of my weekend doing boring work and little things that need to be done and the other day doing something I really want to do with the odd exception which is pretty much every other weekend.  I went a little off course last Saturday though and ended up shopping with my mum and going swimming. I came home and did lots of work though so it doesn't really count, right?

Since I moved house and started my new school I get the bus to school instead of walking like I used to. Weirdly I've actually found that I really miss walking and it was a big part of the only exercise I did. So now that I literally just walk to the bus stop every day I've decided I probably should do a bit more than that so want to start swimming again, which I did.

Anyway, Sunday was the main part of my weekend so I'll stop rambling about Saturday now and talk about that. Harry came round and we were supposed to see The Butler, which looks amazing, but me being the muppet that I am I got the timings wrong and we ended up missing it and coming back slightly disappointed. It's ok though, we're going to see it this Sunday instead and I'm adamant that I WILL get the timings right this time.

Then one of my mum's best friends came round too with her new baby - I've known Thea since I was about three and she's the closest thing to a second mum I have so you can probably guess I was so excited to meet the baby - who is absolutely adorable. We played with her and poor Harry was stuck watching me, but especially my mum and gran, fuss over her, which is quite a strange sight I have no doubt. Harry had to shortly after that.

About an hour later my mum said she had to pop out to go and give something to a friend quickly, and me being the unsuspecting and trusting person that I am, thought nothing of it. When she came back she brought with her one of my best friends who used to live here but moved to Romania four years ago, Tudor. I'm not sure when the last time I mentioned him on here was but he was my closest friend for a very long time and because of the move I hadn't seen him in a year. I don't think I've ever been so surprised in my life. I genuinely stood in the doorway for about five minutes with my jaw open thinking 'what the hell is happening?!' and proceeded to take about half an hour to get over the confusion. I just always assumed Tudor would tell me the next time he's coming to London, we also had a plan to skype that evening so it never occurred to me for a second that he would be turning up on my doorstep.

But I guess life is full of surprises, and this was a great one. We talked for a couple of hours and caught up on everything which was wonderful. It's hard to keep a friendship strong when you live in different countries, and as great as skype is, it's not the same as talking face to face.

Just for your amusement and my embarrassment here is a picture of Tudor and I taken about five years ago in which we aren't even looking at the camera, make of it what you will:


So that was my Sunday, sorry for the belated weekend news, I hope you all had a lovely weekend too. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

My Half Term & Technology

So it's safe to say my two-week half term has pretty much come to a depressing end and on Monday I'll have to be woken up at a painful time of 6:30am just like the majority of everyone else in the country. But I suppose it's not all terrible; I've had a rather decent break. Here's what I got up to:

- went for a yummy dinner with lots of people in my year
- visited Reigate and had lunch and a catch up with Kate
- watched Finding Nemo and proceeded to cook fajitas with Harry
- worked at my dad's school (he works at a school for autistic children and I like to go in and help with primary classes when I can) for a couple of days
- did a lot of reading for philosophy
- watched High School Musical 3 with a couple of friends from my year no I am not ashamed
- visited my old school to see all my friends and teachers, this was a both nostalgic and lovely day
- had dinner at my dad's with him, his girlfriend and Harry
- went on a much-needed shopping trip to Oxford Street with my mum, as pictured below (excuse embarrassing mirror face)


- went to visit my god-family with my mum; my godmother's dad died a couple of weeks ago so it was lovely to go round and give her a hug
- made brownies with Lucy and stayed at hers to try and avoid the nasty St Jude storm 
- went for lunch with my favourites, one of which put up this picture of us from her birthday party


- spent a few days with Harry as pictured below



- cooked bacon and pea risotto for seven people, I might be slightly overly proud of myself for that one
- beat Harry at monopoly
- saw Mackinlay which was great, we talked about the past couple of months and discussed technology, which I'll come onto properly later
- watched Behind The Candelabra
- read A Clockwork Orange
- ate chocolate swiss roll and cream


- watched many YouTube videos
- came home to mum having bought me an advent calender, without me even having to prompt her to do so now that she suggests I am 'too old' which we all know is nonsense



So that's been my half term, it always goes stupidly fast and as you can guess I'm already anticipating the Christmas holidays although not the Christmas shopping - I always find it really difficult to know what to buy for everyone, is that just me?

Anyway, when I was at Mackinlay's the other day we got on to talking about technology. Now I admit I am at a very big risk of sounding like an OAP here - which you hopefully wouldn't expect given that I'm 16 years old, but we talked a lot about how technology has become such a significant part of our lives.

I mean as much as I love technology, I wouldn't be here typing if it wasn't so amazing, it's getting slightly ridiculous how dependent we are on it. Any spare second I have in which I'm not sure what to do, even for a second, I will automatically pick up my iPhone and start going on all my apps, checking the weather, anything I can do on it. And when I think about it, that's a bit weird. When I was at Mackinlay's I realised that simply if she left the room to go and get us a drink or something I would find myself on my phone doing something pointless.

It's just a bit odd and sometimes I really wish that I lived in the '50s or something, just to experience no mobiles, letter-writing and real games for entertainment. Wow, I really do sound old. I don't want this to come across as me not loving and appreciating technology because I truly do, and honestly don't know what I'd do without it. It was just very interesting for me to think about how dependent we are on it and how that is becoming increasingly more common by the second. Just food for thought.

I hope you've all had a lovely Halloween and October, I'm off now to go and see what's for dinner!