2016 – Wrap Up

2016. What a year. She really wasn’t joking was she…

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But lets not dwell on all that messy stuff we saw, we are here for the books! (Or lack there of).

2016 was very much a rollercoaster year when it came to my reading and the amount I read. I kicked off the year really excited about books, I had just started really getting into this blog, I was considering a Youtube channel, I ate, breathed and slept thinking of books and book related content. I did alright, I set myself a GoodReads goal of 50, I was working my way through the ‘Around the World in 52 Books’ challenge list and really enjoying that. I was on fire.

Then summer came, I had shed my second year of my Open Uni course, which meant the text books were packed up (I wanted to set them alight at dance around it but I needed them to revise goddamnit), and I was free to read whatever I liked. I took part in the Book-Tube-AThon, in which I think I read five books in a week, which..what? How? Who was that person? I read many novels, I was interacting with other Booktubers and bloggers, really getting into the swing of the community and loving my bookish life.

Then, Summer went away.

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The days grew shorter in the blink of an eye and suddenly I found myself drowning in children’s literature theoretical essays, stylistics texts, and all the not-so-fun things that came with my third year modules starting. This year is so intense compared to the previous two. Also you’re technically only meant to do one module a year but I want my degree in three years like a normal human being so I’m taking on twice the work load of the average OU student (don’t worry, I don’t deserve your sympathy, I brought this on myself. You played yourself Nathan). So basically since September I have had no time to read anything other than course related texts, thus bringing my flying reading start to a screeching halt. To be honest with y’all I have two essays due in the first week of the new year and I only have two days off over Christmas (eve and day of) so I have no business exerting energy into this subject now but I need to just not think about that or I’ll never pick another book up again as long as I live.

So Nathan, blah blah blah no one cares about your reading failures, lets get to the wrap up!

Here are a few little stats about my reading in 2016 (please note these numbers do not include any university based reading) –

ORIGINAL GOODREADS GOAL – 50 Books

I thought this would be a challenging but realistic goal. Almost a book a week, and I am not the fastest reader in the world let me assure you of that.

ACTUAL GOAL MET – 39 Books

Only 11 off the goal, not too shabby if I do say so myself. I honestly think I could have reached my 50 goal if I hadn’t grossly underestimated the lack of free reading time I’d have once the summer break was over

BOOK BREAK DOWN –

Short Story Collections – 4

My favorite of which was Carys Bray’s Sweet Home 

Classics – 5

I had set myself the goal of reading a classic a month, that didn’t work out quite the way I planned but I’m still five classics down! 

Poetry Collections – 2

Not many at all, but I’m very much a beginner when it comes to poetry, and the two collections I read this year were absolutely haunting and beautiful. 

Graphic Novels – 6

Not gonna lie, apart from Saga which I enjoyed, I think I just tried to fire through some graphic novels to get my goal count up because I’m a dirty rotten cheat and I panicked when I saw what was going to happen uni wise.

I completely forgot until I remembered I set myself a classics challenge, I made a blog post about my 2016 resolutions! Lets see how I fared –

  1. Read at least 60 books – It seems I was very optimistic and then chickened out when it came to setting the GoodReads goal
  2. Update my blog at least twice a week – HAHAHAHA
  3. Have a monthly TBR – I tried for Jan/Feb, didn’t like not just picking up a book in the moment
  4. Have a monthly wrap up – HAHAHAHA
  5. Spend more time when writing a review – I think I reviewed 10% of the books I read this year…spend ANY time would have been more appropriate
  6. Use a TBR jar every month – My TBR jar now contains caster sugar
  7. Read every book I own in 2015 in 2016 – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
  8. Read a classic a month – 5/12 not too bad, not too good either
  9. Re-read Harry Potter – I read the illustrated edition of P’s Stone if that counts
  10. Finish The Song Of Ice And Fire series – HAHAHAHA 1.25 books down
  11. Be more active within the book blogging community – I abandoned you all I’m sorry
  12. Visit more book shops – Nope.
  13. Use the library more often – I actually did this! Quiet a lot in 2016
  14. Go to a book festival – 😦
  15. Don’t worry so much – I’m a 3rd year student I do nothing but.
  16. Read for ME – I’m very much down for this idea still, still working on it, I find I slip sometimes but I’m getting better.

Right this wrap up is very much all over the place. I’ll wrap up this wrap up with a list of a few faves from the year –

Favorite Book –

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Favorite Fantasy –

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Favorite BookTube Channel –

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Honestly I wouldn’t stand a chance choosing just one. I’ve discovered so many content makers in 2016 and I am so excited for what they come up with in the new year

Right I’ve rambled enough. I hope you had a wonderful year, have a beautiful christmas, and an incredible new year.

Fun idea if you’re planning on drinking this new years eve, read this post again and every time I cry about the fact I’m a student, take a shot. I can guarantee intoxication by 1/4 of the way through.

Thanks for an amazing year guys! And I’ll see you all in 2017.

Reading & Homosexuality

Okay, so this is a completely random idea that popped into my head when I finally got around to watching some YouTube videos about books (BookTube videos as they are better known) for the first time since I got bogged down in the mundane life of a third year student.

It has always been apparent to me, even though I cannot be certain of this as to collect the appropriate facts I would have to scour the internet for every book related video on the internet and honestly I have dedication issues when it comes to minor projects so that one is just a non-starter, that the majority of the content on BookTube is created by women. Now this is by no means a complaint, those ladies are making incredible content and are fascinating people, this realisation was more a case of me thinking ‘I wonder if there are any other males watching and creating content of this kind’. And of course there are, I’m just a small fish in a very big pond of male BookTube creators who are blogging and vlogging about their literary adventures.

Now, I had answered my own question, there may be a female majority in the creators of bookish content, but there are definitely some guys out there too. That’s it…curiosity cured.

Oh…wait.

Here is the thing, and I don’t mean that I’m stereotyping or discriminating or whatever offensive things that might be construed about what I’m going to be saying (because even as I type I barely know what I’m saying), but as I began to discover the other men of this community, it became more and more apparent to me that most of these lovely guys just happened to be gay. I’ll list some videos here so you can get a feel for what I’m describing appallingly (and please content creators let me know if you want your link removing for any reason) –

George Lester’s A to Z of LGBT Books  – George gives a beautifully creative and informative run down of some of his favorite LGBT novels and non-fiction reads. George is a lovely man whose content about all bookish things are hilarious and wonderful.

Simon Savidge’s 8 LGBT Books for the Summer – Simon lists some books inspired by Pride Week 2016 to read over the summer months. Simon is an incredible content maker, currently producing a book every day in December for vlogmas, as well as consistently uploading fascinating literary themed videos.

LeeReader’s Rainbow Flag Book Tag – Lee is an avid reader and a huge supporter of LGBT fiction and representation, in this particular video he creates a lovely inventive tag in which he asks book based questions all relating to a colour within the gay pride flag.

Now obviously it isn’t just gay men who talk about LGBT books and themes and what not on BookTube but these three gents are just a few examples of the kinds of guys you can find within this community (as well as little old me). Nor am I just assuming these fine gentlemen are gay purely because they feature LGBT books on their channels, all are opening gay and have referenced their sexuality in their videos themselves. 

Now that was a very long winded way of explaining what I mean that the majority of men creating book based content on Youtube are homosexual (from my experience). Like I said before, there is no way of me knowing exactly now many men are out there discussing books online and what percentage of them are gay. Maybe because I’m a gay man myself within the community, that is the reason I gravitate towards these specific people rather than straight men instead of the facts being that there are just less of them out there. I know that men are the minority in this sect to begin with, I have been mentioned in Twitter on more than on occasion in reply to someone actively seeking out other male Booktubers because they couldn’t find any of us to begin with.

This idea, because I’m an over-think-this-to-death kind of guy, produced many a question into my nosy and curious brain.

  • Do gay men read more than straight men?
  • Do straight men not discuss their reading so openly as gay men?
  • Are straight men embarrassed by reading?
  • Is reading over all considered a feminine past time?
  • Am I just not looking hard enough?

These are all questions I couldn’t find the answers to. When Googling ‘Gay Men vs Straight Men Reading’ I was met with…

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…and many other religious results which didn’t answer my question at all.

I do follow a couple of straight men that have wonderful BookTube channels, who I discovered through my incessant scouring of the internet, and I am in no way discrediting their content because their videos are wonderful, I just want to know why I have experienced such an weighted balance towards homosexual men opening discussing books and reading.

 

Maybe this is just an over thinkers ridiculous ramble, or maybe I have uncovered something that hasn’t been widely discussed, I dunno, enlighten me, please.

 

 

 

I Came. I Read. I Didn’t Conqure

Well, look what the procrastinating, over worked, under slept, under-read cat dragged in.

Hi guys, remember me? I used to read, blog, and vlog about books.

I could spend hours just raining down on you the reasons in which I haven’t been present, why I haven’t uploaded a video or a blog post or so much as an Instagram picture in months, but I won’t bore you with the laborious details.

The short story is, final year of university happened

#someonepleasesaveme

Third year is super intense, and I don’t utilise my time well at the best of times, so trying to balance that and having any ‘reading for pleasure’ (what is that? is that a German dipping sauce? I don’t recall that) time is absolutely impossible. I started the year well, with a decent goal of 50 books, and I was hurtling towards that finish line. I had set up a book blog dedicated twitter/Instagram/Youtube channel. I was making connections with people and taking part in tags and all those sorts of things, but then it all came crashing down after the summer. The reality set in, and I had to abandon this ship to then board on in which I spend my days bouncing from deadline to deadline flailing, winging my way through assignments and text books and just about keeping myself from going over board.

But I have not forsaken you.

I will return.

I’m slowly getting ahead with my university work (it only took me three years), I’m slowly getting organised and balancing my life, I’ve had a 2017 diary since early November so you know I mean business.

I’m hoping to get fully back into the swing of things, and create lots more book related content, as well as branching out into other relevant parts of my life, I mean…CAN WE TALK ABOUT WESTWORLD FOR A MINUTE?!

But yes, I am here, I’m still reading and watching. I’m sat here watching Booktubers going Vlogmas thinking, I couldn’t upload a video in four months BUT YOU’RE UP HERE BLASTING OUT DAILY…D-A-I-L-Y VIDEOS?! I want you to share with me what magical creature cast this magic on you to make that possible. But yes I’m here, silent but most certainly not deadly (I son’t get enough sleep these days to be anyone’s assassin. And be assured, that if you’ve stuck with me, you will see me rise from the ashes of 2016 like a majestic phoenix, but until then, I hope you’re all having a wonderful December.

 

Book Review – Undying (A Love Story) by Michel Faber

GoodReads Rating: 5 Stars

This devastating book of grief and loss, death and heartache, has seeped its way into my very soul. This is the first Michel Faber book I have read, and as bizarre as it may sound, I think he instantly became one of my favorite writers after reading this collection, if not, one of my favorite poets of all time (although this is only the second poetry collection I have ever read for pleasure and not for education, so my experiences with poetry are extremely limited). His words, his emotion, everything about every single poem in this collection drew me in so hard, and catapulted me back out feeling like the poem itself had absorbed a small part of me, and I of it.

Undying is a collection of poems written by Michel based on his experiences with losing his wife to cancer, Eva died in 2014 of cancer of the bone marrow. The book is split up into two parts, the first an adventure in waiting for death, and second in dealing with the aftermath. The reader is taken on a most personal insight into the life of a man who is forced to watch the most important person in the world to him die, powerless to intervene.

Having never had to deal directly with cancer, being one of the very lucky people who have yet to lose someone to this most horrific disease, I was hugely effected by this collection. The themes of grief, of loss, love, hopelessness, sadness, and anger, all spoke to me in a way that poetry never really has before. If someone is looking to get into poetry, then this would be an ideal (but heartbreaking) first collection. These poems don’t just make you think about yourself and your situations in life, but because you know that Michel is speaking from his own, horrendously sad experiences, it hits you as hard as it would if this story of loss were a documentary. You can see his pain, can see the candid ways in which he would carry on his own life after the death of his wife, Eva. His poems give you an insight into the logistics of losing someone, which can just solidifify the loss in your mind.

‘The helpline man

refuses to help

because I am not you.

He needs – by letter – proof

that you are dead, he needs

to see your name and your disease

and the date your suffering ended’ 

from Account Holder by Michel Faber

Michel Faber’s story of the loss of Eva has touched me in the very deep and personal way. I still think about the words, they linger with me as I go about my day. They make me want to reach out to him and help, to reach out to anyone going through anything like that and try to help them through it. I wish Michel all the happiness in the world, because nothing is as devastating as the loss of human life, and I applaud him for channeling those feelings into the most touching piece of literature I have ever read.

Undying deals with illness and death in a way that society should learn to do more often. We often sweep death under the rug, we donate and fundraise for all these cancer charities, without ever stopping to think properly about what it takes to go through that, what the person suffering, and their loved ones actually feel. More people need to stand up to tell their stories like Michel, from the domestic duties of care, to the process of trying to live in a world without the most important person you’ve ever known by your side.

Undying is available now, published by Canon Gate books.

BookTube & Blogging | My Future (Semi) Plan

Hello guys!

First of all, as always, I will start by saying how sorry I am to have been so neglectful of my blog recently, but I have a semi-justification/excuse, I recently started my own YouTube channel based around my reading and lots of bookish things. Now, that is not to say that I am abandoning ship on the blogging front, quite the opposite. Let me talk you through what my plans are and what you can expect from both my blog and my channel in the future.

(Check out my channel here – AWALKIN2THEWILD)

BLOG POSTS –

I adore having this blog, I love that I have an outlet to write and review and post whatever the hell I want and that I have you wonderful people here to read my random ramblings, and I loved reading your comments and checking everyone else’s blogs out. For the past few months, with exam season at university, and the beginning of my channel on YouTube, I have become very neglectful of it, and posted very little in the way of content. This is hopefully about to change. I love having a YouTube channel, and devoting my content to literature, but I am by no means a ‘YouTuber’, I have no skills in the ways of editing, set dressing, lighting etc, I am just a bloke in a bedroom, but I am what I am. These videos are fun for me to watch, but I don’t think that reviewing books on camera is something I want to do, at least not full length reviews, which is why I am going to be dedicating this blog and most of its posts to full length reviews of the books I read. I want to post a review of EVERYTHING I read, because I was to chronicle my thoughts and feelings of each book not only for people to read but for myself to look back on and remind myself of. So my blog posts from now (until I change my mind) will largely be based on book reviews. Any of the future haul posts etc that I have done in the past may continue, but on the whole this blog will mostly be a blog of reviews. I hope that’s okay! That being said, I plan on changing the way in which I write my reviews, not completely, but I feel that my reviews in the past haven’t really said everything I wanted to say, or been as brutally honest as they could have been, so I will be a ruthless book bitch probably quite a lot.

YouTube –

I have only had my channel on YouTube for three weeks, but already I’ve met so many incredible, like-minded people who I respect and love their content. YouTube, much like this blog, is such a wonderful way to make reading and books a social and friendly thing. I love the way it allows us to develop discussion and thought provoking content. I have always been a fan of YouTube, ‘BookTube’ more recently, about the same time I started this blog, and I enjoy it so much. My channel is very much still in its early stages, like I said, my videos aren’t edited yet, the lighting makes me resemble Caspar the Friendly Ghost, and you can see from the few videos I have that my thumbnail creating skills are still very much in development. That being said, I am very excited for the future of my channel. I want my channel to become an extension of my blog, with my blog having in-depth reviews, and my videos being a fun accompaniment, in which people can watch me stumble through hauling the videos I’ll be reviewing soon, or have a little fun with some tag videos. I have already met a couple of people via YouTube who I am so excited to do read-a-longs and fun things with in the future, and although small for a YouTube channel, my subscribers have delighted me with comments and kind words, I never even expected anyone to watch a video, like when I started this blog, I expected to just be rambling into the ether.

So those are my semi-plans for my blog and my channel. If you have any questions, or any video/blog post suggestions, please do let me know in the comments below, or just say hi, I love a friendly face and would like to check out many more of your blogs. Until next time (which WILL NOT BE TOO FAR IN THE FUTURE), happy reading 🙂