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The Ultimate Book Tag

So I’ve been Googling ‘book tag’ as I thought it would be a good way for me to talk a bit more about books in general rather than specific book I’ve been reading. I think this Ultimate Book Tag covers quite a bit of ground, and it seems to have done the rounds over the years so here we go.

(Credit: I believe it was created by this lady for her friends to complete on their YouTube channel – so thanks guys!)

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?

Yes! When I was a child our family holidays always involved a lot of driving and the only way I could read (my favourite thing to do!) was to be dosed up with travel sickness tablets.

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

Hmm, I’m not sure I’d say it was unique but I was quite surprised by the writing style in Sally Rooney’s Normal People though as it was in the present tense and I can’t remember ever reading a book like that before.

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.

To be quite honest I find this question slightly offensive (lol). I could wax lyrical about Harry Potter and what the series means to me for hours. I’m part of the generation that grew up with Harry Potter, I literally went through school with him by my side. The books came out every two years and coincided with either the school year I’d just finished or was just going into. He was 18 and defeating Lord Voldermort as I was 18 and getting my A Level results. The end of the HP series perfectly coincided with me becoming a (legal) adult and became a bit symbolic of the end of my childhood. But even without any of that personal attachment, there really is no contest, HP wins hands down!

My defence would be:

  1. JK Rowling is a genius and her story telling is far superior to that of Stephanie Meyer (sorry Stephanie).
  2. The wizarding world and its lore trumps the vampire world.
  3. HP doesn’t feature a weird love triangle or any “imprinting” (shudder).

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books…)?

No, I don’t. I typically only have one book to take anywhere at any time so just pop it in my rucksack. Usually I use my Kindle anyway, so even less reason to have a book bag!

5. Do you smell your books?

Um, sometimes. I know a lot of people like the smell of books but I’m not that fussed. I do however LOVE the smell of textbooks. You know with the shiny paper? Divine!

 6. Books with or without little illustrations?

Without.

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

Dan Brown! I read the Da Vinci Code when it came out in 2003, making me 14. It was the first grown up mystery / thriller I’d read and I loved it. I was completely enthralled! I then went back and read Angels & Demons and all of the subsequent books as soon as they came out. I only really realised that they actually weren’t that great when I read Inferno as an adult in 2013 (I do still want to read Origin though).

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood?

Not really, sorry, boring answer!

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

Probably Animal Farm.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?

Heartstone by CJ Sansom.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?

No, I don’t write, I sit firmly in the reader camp.

12. When did you get into reading?

I have been an avid reader as long as I can remember. I loved reading as a child and it was pretty much all I did for fun. My parents like to joke about how much money the must have wasted sending me to piano, ballet, swimming and horse riding lessons as the only thing that I ever actually wanted to do was read! They used to despair at the rate I went through books! When I was at school I’d obviously be able to borrow them or be given them by teachers so that was fine, but when we went on holiday they’d have to buy me (or check out of the library) around ten books for a two week holiday. I wasn’t allowed them until we set off as I was known to read a couple before we went if I was left with them in my room.

The fact I read so much and so fast meant that I read pretty much every book I owned as a child at least five times. I ended up reading some pretty weird books, as I used to raid my parents book shelves whenever I wanted something new!

13. What is your favorite classic book?

It would have to be either Animal Farm or To Kill A Mockingbird. I’d need to re-read them both to make a decision I think!

14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?

Are these my only options? Out of the above my best and favourite subject was English. Out of all my subjects my best and favourite was Sociology.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?

Donate to a charity shop!

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?

Good question! I don’t think I’m in a position to answer really though. I’m kinda out of touch with young adult fantasy / dystopia genre. I would be up for reading something along those lines again though.

17. What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while filming?

Not really a question I can answer as I don’t film. I would probably be one of those annoying people who stares at themselves in the view finder though.

18. What is your favorite word?

Well, I’ve always said antidisestablishmentarianism as I thought it was the longest word in the English language but I’ve just googled it and I’m not sure it is! More research required.

19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?

Um, none of the above I don’t think!

20. Vampires or Fairies? Why?

Vampires! Mega Buffy fan right here.

21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?

I’m going to go with shapeshifters. I’d be more likely to read a book with shapeshifters than angels.

22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?

I’m not really a fan of werewolves generally, but I think I’d pick them over spirits. I think there’s more story potential with werewolves.

23. Zombies or Vampires?

Vampires – see above. Plus I find zombies boring.

 24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?

Hmm. Not that into either of these things to be honest. I find them both quite “problematic”.

25. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in (or ideally none…)

That was fun! Thanks for reading 🙂

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Update

So it’s been about exactly two months since I set myself up this blog and I thought it might be good to just check in and talk about my plans for the next couple of months. I also want to say hello to the handful of people who have followed me – hello internet friends!

Even though this blog has now hit the dizzying heights of 10 followers, let’s be honest, it is really just for me at the moment. But regardless of that fact, I feel I need to reflect and address a couple of things from my first post. I’m acutely aware that in said post, I wrote about my intentions to use this as a place to share short stories, opinion pieces, essays and writing prompt challenges. Well, none of this has happened (except for that one post about how much I love autumn). It’s just been book review after book review!

I’m working on a couple of longer opinion posts, but man, I underestimated how long they would take me! Even the book reviews are time consuming! However they’re here to stay – I’m really enjoying thinking about what I’ve read in a more critical way, and consciously making an effort to realise what a book has made me think about, whether I would recommend it etc. I haven’t yet got my timing right in terms of writing the review immediately after finishing the book (i.e. when my thoughts are still fresh). At the moment, by the time I’ve got a spare hour or so to write, I’ve already forgotten most of the book as I’m half way through a new one.

If I’m being honest, I can’t see there being too much else on here other than book reviews for the moment although I do have a list of writing prompts and questions that I’d like to use / answer. I’ve started thinking about them, but I can’t see myself getting to them just yet. Even when I do, I don’t think that type of post will be frequent. I don’t even want to acknowledge the short story suggestion I made, lets just pretend that didn’t happen, okay?

I did say that I wouldn’t be sharing anything personal here. Which is still the case, however, I am planning on doing a couple of yearly round up posts / goals for 2020 in December and January, just because I think it’s nice to reflect and plan. Don’t worry though, I won’t be sat here telling the internet all my deepest and darkest secrets through (jokes, I have zero secrets to tell).

Ok, update over, I feel more organised already. Book review service to resume imminently!

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Book review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Warning: spoilers ahead. Do not continue if you have not read How to Stop Time.

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Favourite quote: 

Many of us have every material thing we need, so the job of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions, to make us feel like we need more by making us want things we never needed before. We are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have been to only ten other countries. To feel too old if we have a wrinkle. To feel ugly if we aren’t photoshopped and filtered. 

How to Stop Time is the tale of Tom Hazard – a seemingly average 41-year-old, living the type of relatively mundane life expected of a secondary school History Teacher. We soon learn however, this is one of many lives he has lived throughout his 500(ish) years on earth. Tom has a rare medical condition that has allowed him to defy age and live for centuries. He has seen witch trials, played on stage with Shakespeare, sailed to new lands with Captain Cook, enjoyed cocktails with F. Scott. Fitzgerald and partied through the roaring twenties. Now, he just wants a normal life but of course it’s not that easy.

I feel like you can take what you want from this book. Depending on the type of person you are, you’ll either end up questioning everything about life, or you’ll take it for what it is – Tom narrating his life for the past 500 years, reflecting on love, hi-jinks and tragedy along the way. I fall into the first camp – I wasn’t particularly looking for anything too thought provoking when I picked How to Stop Time up, but I couldn’t help but acknowledge the theme of existentialism running throughout. A lot of people can relate to trying to work out the meaning of life. I mean, if you actually think about it, it is quite mad that there’s 7.5 billion of us here on Earth, for no apparent reason? Of course for Tom the questions of ‘why?’, ‘how?’ and ‘what’s the point?’ are accentuated – he’s watched his loved ones die, seen the world tear itself apart with wars more than once, lived through revolutions and come out of it all alone. He is constantly questioning this, trying to come to terms with the concept of time, and ends up in a very claustrophobic life of self preservation.

Overall, I did enjoy How to Stop Time but it did take a while to get into. I think this was due to the way in which it flits between the present and the past, and also adds in some of Tom’s memories in the present day chapters. It was hard to follow at the beginning, but I did get used to it and didn’t feel like it took away from the content. One thing I was impressed with was that, whilst the premise strays into the realms of sci-fi, Haig does well to not go too far down this path, and keeps the focus firmly on humanity. Something which I greatly appreciated, as I’m really not a fan of sci-fi.

I would definitely recommend to friends, and will be looking for other Matt Haig novels in the future (I believe he has written memoirs and children’s books as well). Apparently every one of his books have had the rights sold to make film adaptations, a pretty mean feat!

Have you read How to Stop Time? What did you think?

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Books I’ve read recently #1

Stalker, Lisa Stone

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️

Brief synopsis:  

Derek Flint is a 40 odd year-old man, a loner, and still lives with his mum, running his home surveillance company out of his childhood bedroom. Since he has no real-life friends, he compensates for this by using the CCTV he’s installed to spy on his customers happy family lives. Through this he witnesses some dodgy activity, and becomes embroiled in the police investigation into a string of local crimes. As Derek tries to clear his name, things escalate out of his control and he ends up becoming the target of an online crime group.

This one I feel a bit unsure about. It would have been a three-star rating from me except for one part which I will come to later. 

Generally, this was a pretty good thriller. Not amazing, but not bad either. It certainly gave me food for thought and the content was (slightly) creepy. The redeeming feature was the writing style, it was fast paced, and the author did a great job with Derek, she really made him a believable character and explained his quirks and thought processes beautifully. I felt like I completely understood him (as weird as he was!)

One star off for the fact that I guessed who the “baddie” was from about the halfway mark. It was then a bit frustrating having to wait for this to be revealed later in the book. This wouldn’t usually bother me so much but paired with the other two reasons for knocking stars off, it became a more important factor. 

One star off for the online role-playing crime gang storyline. All I was thinking whilst it was happening was ‘umm so WHY has Paul joined this group again?’ There was no indication that he was a sadistic criminal when he was working for Derek, so it was a pretty big U-turn for his character. Although I guessed Paul was the one hacking into Derek’s computer and was somehow behind the crimes, it didn’t make sense to me that he was part of a group like this. And it didn’t shock me, it just made me go ‘eh?’ I feel like the author could have hinted at a different side of Paul’s personality and/or life earlier on to sign post that he wasn’t as much of a regular guy as he seemed. 

Final star off for the inclusion of the planned gang rape of a child. I found this to be lazy writing on the authors part, and only there for shock value. Sexual violence is often exploited, with no relevance to plot, in writing (and on TV), and I felt this was happening here. To suggest that a seemingly normal, intelligent young man with a stable family life and good prospects would be willing to rape his ex-girlfriends 14-year-old sister for an online game is absolutely ridiculous. Sexual violence is a complex thing to write about and if you’re not going to give it the time and explanation it deserves then just don’t include it. 

Stalker wasn’t enough to put me off Lisa Stone completely and I’m currently reading another of hers called Doctor, so I’ll decide whether it’s worth reading any more after I’ve finished. 

One Minute Later, Susan Lewis

Star rating: ⭐️

Brief synopsis: 

Present day: Career driven Vivienne suffers a heart attack on her 27th birthday. After waking up from surgery, she learns her life has completely changed, and she is going back living with her Mum in the hometown she escaped as soon as she turned 18.  

1989: Family of five moves to a farm and lives and idyllic country life. Presumably something goes wrong (didn’t find out what). 

Sadly, I didn’t even manage to finish this one. I absolutely hate not finishing a book, and I have only ever done it once or twice before (and even then, that was more because I didn’t have lots of time and got out of the habit, rather than because I disliked the book). But this was just not enjoyable, I found myself dreading “reading time”, and finding any excuse to not to pick this one back up. This wasn’t ideal because I typically like to read on my lunch at work, and before bed to give me a break from my laptop / phone / TV. But instead of reading before bed I was scrolling Instagram to avoid picking this up. So sorry Susan, but you gotta go! 

Firstly, the story was dull. I got 25% of the way through before giving up, and it felt like it was still the opening chapter. I didn’t understand the link between the current storyline and the one set in 1989 and as such I didn’t really develop any attachment to either, I just felt myself thinking ‘but what has this got to do with anything?!’ Obviously, I didn’t get far enough to find out what brought the two storylines together but I just didn’t care, and felt that by 25% there should have been a bit more of a link so I could get invested the characters, and how it was going to pan out. 

Secondly, the writing was far too “flowery” for me. So many unnecessary adjectives and so much information provided that I didn’t care about at all. I felt the family life described in 1989 was stomach churningly lovey dovey and quaint (although I expect that didn’t last too long, as I assume that someone ended up cheating – resulting in Vivienne in the current timeline but that’s just speculation). The family in the present day were far too angst ridden without any apparent reason too. 

All in all, it was a no from me. I had this book on Kindle, but my mum also gave me the paperback as she’d bought it too. Her review was “run of the mill book, very depressing”. That tells you everything you need to know really.  

Before I Go to Sleep, S J Watson

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Brief synopsis: 

Christine has severe amnesia and can’t remember one day to the next. The story begins as she wakes up and begins to re-learn her life, something she does every day as sleep is what “erases” her memory. After meeting with Dr. Nasch she begins to keep a daily journal in an effort to help her regain some form of a normal life. However, as she begins to write down her daily life, she discovers things aren’t quite as they seem.  

Published in 2011, I’m pretty late to the party with this book – it’s been around for years. It was one of those ‘must read’ books (akin to Gone Girl etc) and was turned into a film with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth – bona fide Hollywood!  

All in all, this was a good read, a true thriller that keeps you guessing. Although the signposts are there that something isn’t quite right with Christine and Ben’s relationship, you don’t quite know what exactly until everything culminates in typical explosive fashion.   

I would recommend Before I Go to Sleep to anyone who enjoys a suspense filled read. It wasn’t worth the full 5 stars as it didn’t blow my mind and didn’t leave me thinking about it days later.  It was written well, and a page turner without being overly dramatic or full of cheesy cliff hangers. You’re turning the page because you want to know what happens to Christine, not because a chapter has been ended abruptly with the sole purpose of you turning the page (don’t get me wrong I like this style too, but it’s a different type of book – one I would typically enjoy sitting by a pool with a cocktail in hand). 

Confession time: I had actually seen the film prior to reading, but it was years ago and I genuinely couldn’t remember anything about it apart from it was a film where Nicole Kidman couldn’t remember anything (the irony). Perhaps if I’d started reading it without any subconscious prior knowledge it would have been a 5 star, but I think 4 is good enough! 

Paris for One and Other Stories, Jojo Moyes

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Brief synopsis: 

A collection of short stories written by Jojo Moyes.  

Favourite short story: Between the Tweets 

Least favourite short story: Crocodile Shoes 

This is the first thing I’ve read by Jojo Moyes, and I would say it was an ok experience overall. Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with a Cecelia Ahern book (PS. I Love You – the worst book I’ve ever read) about 10 years ago, and my brain has since (perhaps unfairly) lumped Jojo Moyes into the same category as Ahern so I’ve never given her a chance. This was another of my mum’s cast offs – it just appeared on my door mat one day (she likes to put books through my letterbox) so I thought I’d give it a go.

The majority of these stories are around the 10-ish page mark, except for Paris for One and Honeymoon in Paris which are a little longer. I believe the latter of which features characters from another of her novels, so if you are a fan of Jojo Moyes, it would probably be nice to meet characters you know again. Everything I read was fine, it was basic chick lit in my opinion. I certainly wouldn’t be rushing out to get another of Moyes books, but I have been known to enjoy reading things like this every now and again, usually after something a bit “heavier”.

Without Between the Tweets this collection would probably only get 2 stars but that short story is definitely worth a whole star on its own. I really enjoyed it, and the “twist” made me do an actual lol. One of my main gripes with these types of books is that the women are always so bloody boring, whereas I thought the female character in this was a little different to the usual. I would have been interested in a longer story with Bella as the main character! 

(Crocodile Shoes, my least favourite of the short stories, had exactly this boring, one dimensional female character FYI). 

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Writing prompt #1: your favourite season

For me, the answer to this is as easy as breathing. There is no doubt that autumn (fall), is my favourite season. I enjoy spring and summer, but there’s nothing like autumn. All other seasons pale in comparison.

There is nothing about September to December that I don’t like. I genuinely look forward to crisp, fresh mornings, the low, golden sun and fallen leaves all year round. It makes me feel nostalgic, cosy, comfortable, safe and secure. At any point throughout the year (usually when I’m stressed) I can be found on Google images searching for pictures of autumn leaves, candles, pumpkin patches, fairy lights and bonfire night. If I were to describe my happy place, it would be sat on a park bench, wrapped up in a big fluffy coat, with scarf, hat and gloves on, drinking coffee surrounded by fallen leaves and the trees changing colour. Just typing that makes me feel 50% happier than I was 30 second ago.

I was talking to a friend about my love for autumn a few weeks ago. We’d gone out for dinner in mid-August and on our walk home we both agreed the evening had a distinct autumn-y feel to it. I said it made me happy, she rolled her eyes and laughed (she is a summer girl through and through). It got me thinking about why I like the season so much and when I got home I did what every millennial does when they are hit with a big life question – I Googled it.

I actually found quite a lot of literature on why certain types of people like autumn. Ok, that makes it sounds more serious than it was but there were some semi official looking sites discussing the topic.

Firstly, apparently it’s the season for introverts (I would 100% classify myself as an introvert FYI). Summer typically brings a calendar of social events which puts a lot of pressure on us introverts to socialise, have fun and generally get out and mingle. When autumn comes round people begin to favour nights in rather than soaking the evening rays up with al fresco dining. Autumn brings less expectation that you will be available and up for an evening out. So, if you’re the type of person who’d rather be at home snuggled under a blanket watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, then autumn gives you the perfect excuse to do just that, and your friends will apparently be a lot more accepting of that fact when the nights start getting colder and darker earlier. Perfect! Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy pub garden evenings and BBQ filled afternoons of the summer months but when September rolls around I’m usually more than ready to get my knitted jumpers out and stay in with a good book (or TV show) and my cat.

Secondly, it’s a season that symbolises new beginnings. I think this is probably traditionally linked to harvest but for me, it’s also all about the fact September brings a new school year. This was always something I absolutely loved as a child. The sheer joy of going out buying all my new stationery, reinventing myself, and that unique feeling of going up a school year (and thus becoming much cooler and more sophisticated, obviously). I also was that kid who by the end of the summer holiday was so ready to go back to school. Six week was two weeks too long in my opinion so I used to await September with such anticipation. Although I’m no longer in school myself (thank God), I do work in the education sector (not a teacher) so the academic year is still firmly ingrained in my mind. I feel more of a “new year” vibe in September than I do in January if I’m honest.

And thirdly, let’s face it, autumn is when all the good stuff happens – Halloween, Harvest Festivals, Thanksgiving (I’m not American and don’t celebrate but it’s worth an honourable mention), Bonfire Night… Christmas. (Ok, ok, so I know that technically winter starts on the 21 December meaning Christmas is in that camp, but the general Christmas spirit starts much earlier so I’m claiming it for autumn too.)

I hope the fact that this has been published on the autumnal equinox isn’t lost on you (whoever you may be). I did it on purpose because I like to be a cringe cliche like that.

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Book review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Warning: spoilers ahead. Do not continue if you haven’t read Normal People.

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Favourite quote:

You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.

Let’s just get this out there straight away – I loved this book, and I mean loved. The fact I enjoyed it so much surprised me, as it’s not necessarily my usual type of book. I couldn’t put it down and was done in two days.

Normal People is set in Ireland in the early 2010’s and follows Connell and Marianne throughout their late teens and early twenties, as they grow up, attempt to figure out life and love (I say ‘love’ in the loosest possible way). I’ve seen quite a few people liken it to One Day by David Nicholls, and I suppose to some extent it’s a valid comparison as it’s about two people who keep finding a way back to each other, regardless of whatever obstacle is in their way. However, Normal People doesn’t cover quite as large of a time frame and it’s much less of a traditional ‘love story’. In fact, this is a downright toxic relationship. I do believe that Connell and Marianne love each other, but they have a very unhealthy way of showing it. So, if you take One Day, throw in a tonne of bad decisions, questionable behaviour, serious mental health issues, domestic violence and suicide then you’re almost at Normal People.  (Disclaimer: I don’t remember the ins and outs of One Day as I read it years ago, so it may be that it’s pretty toxic itself or has some elements of the above that I don’t remember – sorry! I will become better at this sort of thing, promise). 

Rooney has imagined a brilliant story that has been written perfectly. It’s as simple as that. I will admit, I have a tendency to lose interest in a book if there’s not a likeable character, and in this case, I would argue that neither Connell nor Marianne were particularly likeable, but that didn’t seem to matter. The way in which Rooney kept the narrative flowing, regardless of the fact it was written in third person and present tense was wonderful, and something different for me as a reader.

I recommended Normal People to a friend the other week. She’s in a WhatsApp book club with a couple friends she met on her PhD course (~intellectuals~). I thought given the topicality of the themes touched on, it might be a good one for them to read and discuss. She told me they’d already read it – and a member of the book club had surmised the content “normalised trauma and violence”. Now, I’m not stupid enough to officially challenge this person to this comment, as I’m pretty sure her thesis is centred around trauma and violence so of course, she is an academic expert in the field. But this is where I benefit from being a mere spectator. From my point of view as a casual reader, I found the way in which these things were addressed and dealt with really interesting and it made me think about life and how we function as people and as a society. My main take away was that no one is normal, and therefore normal as a concept is a fallacy. As awful as some of the things that are happening to both Connell and Marianne – and how awful what they’re doing to each other is – they’re “normal” people. They could be people you went to school or university with, or people you work with every day. Is the point not that we don’t really know what is going on with anyone – a severely depressed person can still get good grades, someone who has a deeply dysfunctional family life can still make friends etc. I know Connell and Marianne have both got (very different) mental health problems but they’re still ‘normal people’ to those around them who remain unaware of what exactly is going on in each of their lives.

Having waxed lyrical about this book for what feels like about a year, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that it will not be for everyone, and there are certain friends I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to. To enjoy it you’ve got to quickly get over the somewhat non-standard writing style (as well as the fact there are no speech marks!) and if you’re the type of person that enjoys happy ending love stories then the pay off of getting over the strange(ish) writing style might not be worth it.

I can’t wait to read Sally Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends now. Which incidentally I bought for £1.50 in Mind today (fun fact, I also bought Normal People for £1.50 in a Cats Protection – absolute bargains!)

Finally, there is no relevance to the quote, I just really liked it and thought it was one of the most articulate and perfect things I’ve ever read.

Have you read Normal People? What did you think?

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Book review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Warning: spoilers ahead. Do not continue if you haven’t read Everything I Know About Love.

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Favourite quote:

‘Is this it?’ she asked, bellowing into the dark night. ‘is this really all life is?’

‘Is what all life is?’ Maragret asked soothingly, putting her arm around her.

‘Fucking… Tottenham Court Road and ordering shit off Amazon’ she replied.

I’ll just start by saying that I’m slightly embarrassed that this book is my first review. What a cliche I am. It feels like Dolly Alderton’s memoirs have been everywhere in the past year, with almost all women between the ages of 25-35 having it on their reading lists. It was touted as essential reading for anyone who identified as a feminist, which also sucked me in (side note: I’m not sure it really is that feminist, but I’m not going to go into that now). I don’t usually gravitate to books like this but I do admit the title and cover intrigued me and I did see a lot, and I mean a lot, of good reviews so I bought it at Tesco for £3.

This was a rollercoaster read for me. One minute I was happy to be reading about Dolly’s personal growth and the next I was either depressed, or angry at her immaturity. One thing you can’t deny after reading this though, is that Dolly is exceptionally honest and self reflective, which somewhat redeemed some of the questionable behaviour she demonstrates throughout.

I must admit however, I’m nothing like Dolly. So, I couldn’t relate to the majority of her anecdotes and as such I think some of the essence of the book was lost on me. I wasn’t single for any of my twenties so I haven’t had the whole single girl looking for love experience, which is a large focus of her journey. I found myself cringing at the stories of her early twenties. I just wanted to grab her and tell her to stop being so stupid! Life is about so much more than finding your next shag and being insanely jealous of your best friends boyfriend (who seemed like a lovely chap to be honest).

What I could relate to however, was her feelings towards getting older. The quote I have highlighted above was my favourite of the whole book (although not said by Dolly, but her friend). It made me laugh. I even took a picture of it and shared it on Instagram to give my fellow 30 year olds a lol too. It perfectly encompasses how I felt about turning 30 earlier this year (which may explain why I got absolutely wrecked off homemade margaritas and fell asleep on the sofa at 10.30pm at my own party). For context, her friend is saying that her life has become boring, basically. By the time you hit 30 life is somewhat mundane. That’s not a complaint, just a fact. Obviously there is still excitement, fun and opportunity but there’s a lot less spontaneity and you aren’t as carefree. Sometimes an Amazon order is as exciting as it gets.

Reading about how Dolly’s attitude, opinions and life changed throughout her 20’s was bang on for me, and I felt that she articulated the absolute dread I felt about turning 30 perfectly. It wasn’t about “getting old”, I know I’m not old, I know I’ve still got my whole life ahead of me. It was about shit becoming real – a turning point in my life that firmly cemented me in genuine adulthood. People being successful at work, buying houses, getting married, having babies etc is no longer a surprise – it is normal, expected even and entirely appropriate for my age group. I fully recognise there’s nothing wrong with any of those things and I want all of them (I have already bought a house, so I’ve nailed that one) but it is still a surprise to find myself old enough for all of those things to be normal.

So in conclusion, I enjoyed the growing up element, but not so much the single girl about town element. However, if you’ve either had a few wild years yourself, or spent a portion of your twenties single this would probably resonate with you a lot more.

I’m not sure Dolly actually does know anything about romantic love, but I realise that is the point she’s trying to get across. Learning that love doesn’t just mean romantic love and appreciating the joy and worth in the love you receive from anyone but a boyfriend/girlfriend is the moral of the story.

Have you read Everything I Know About Love? What did you think?