UPDATE – Drowning in PhD Reading and a Book Haul

It’s been a long January of reading pretty much everything Primo Levi wrote and other Holocaust literature and memoirs – hence my lack of reviews, I don’t particularly want to review such harrowing and personal stuff.

But while I’m here to plug, I wrote a review of a book by a second generation Holocaust survivor which has now been published by the Institute of Historical Research http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/2215

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is I had an amazing little book haul courtesy of a £50 Waterstones voucher for filling in a training survey for the lovely people that fund my PhD. So I thought I’d post about the books I’ve bought, why I bought them and how I will 100% be reviewing all of them once I’ve read them.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
This looks to be an interesting time travelling/identity crisis read with hints of loneliness. I also love the fact that the main character uses his long life and experiences to teach History at a school – yes I’m biased and swayed by the whole history link.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
This has been on my to-read list for a long time, but it wasn’t a Holocaust read that could be found in the University Library. My thesis dabbles in the ideas of psychology and how they link to the post-war experience of Holocaust survivors, and the idea that Frankl attempted to create a psychotherapeutic method based on his Auschwitz experience just feels like a fascinating thing to engage with.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I had a friend who really adored this book, and despite the perils of friendship with this person, we had similar taste in books. I mean come on, dystopia, book hating, burning, banning intrigue? Count me in.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
I’ve always been really interested in the practice of medicine and the history of it, but also dismayed to see how much pressure staff in our NHS are under. These secret diaries of a junior doctor feels like something everyone should read – the people who treat us when we go to hospital are only human, humans under incredible amounts of pressure.

Wayward Girls and Wicked Women by Angela Carter
I know people who are so obsessed and in love with Angela Carter’s works, and I have read a grand total of zero. Time to change this, also the title sounds feminist and epic.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
See above remarks how I am so ridiculously late to the Angela Carter party.

Desire by Haruki Murakami
I’ve heard so many good things about Murakami just in general, and this little mini book seemed really interesting in its premise and to be honest I don’t really read enough short stories. I should get to the point where I do read more short stories and poetry, for tiny little pick me ups for the time constraints of modern life.

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REVIEW – Working Class Boy & Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes

Disclaimer – I am a massive hardcore Jimmy Barnes fan and I’m very well aware that for a 23 year old British female, that its weird to be so into an 80s Aussie rockstar. But what can I say? My mum has great music taste influenced by a year living in Australia that she passed on to me.

It was a massive dream of mine to see him live, but I never imagined he would tour here. But he did, and the 13th December was a life changer. He is incredible live even so many years after his rise to stardom. I then realised my fellow hardcore fan of a mother bought his two memoirs – Working Class Boy and Working Class Man.

The first book, Working Class Boy deals with Jimmy’s childhood in Glasgow and his initial move to Australia with his very dysfunctional family. He’s so upfront and honest about it, without laying blame at anyone’s door that its fairly refreshing. And he doesn’t hesitate in showing himself warts and all and giving you all the details as he remembers (and by his own admission there are a lot of hazy bits). He shows the readers how music was his shelter from his problems but also made his issues worse.

The theme continues with Working Class Man when his band, Cold Chisel is formed and he has everything he could wish for – a wife, children, a surrogate family in his band and money in the bank, but its hard to escape those origins and a deep-set unhappiness. The warts and all approach really comes to the fore in this book, and Jimmy freely admits in places that he acted all kinds of wrong and messed up. I admire that about him really, and the way its presented shows the struggle between an addiction and wanting to do the best for his family while making the most of his career and his love of music.

Even if you’re not a fan of the man himself, I can’t recommend this book enough because it’s more than a rockstar memoir. It’s a tale of fighting through a lot of demons to happiness and some semblance of normality.

New Year, Same Old Bookish Me – 2017 Recollections

So after finishing Jimmy Barnes’ memoirs ‘Working Class Boy’ and ‘Working Class Man’ (which I’ll be reviewing in my next post), my 2017 reading adventures came to an end. And finishing those two meant that this year, I read 108 books. It’s a massive shock and kind of ridiculous, but at the same time I sort of get why the number was so large this year. Books were my respite from my problems, a shelter from all the crap I was carrying and refusing to deal with. Things are much better now, and 2018 promises to be a jam-packed, fun-filled year. Life feels less shaky and more secure now, so yay to stability!

So out of the 108 books I read this year, I thought I would try to narrow it down to my top 10 (no mean feat believe me). In no particular order, here are my top picks:
– Working Class Boy by Jimmy Barnes
– Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes
– The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
– The Boys by Martin Gilbert
– The One by John Marrs
– Insidious Intent by Val McDermid
– The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
– The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
– So Much Owed by Jean Grainger
– Fevre Dream by George R R Martin

There’s a long list of books that I want to delve into in 2018, on top of the exciting plans I’ve got in the pipeline. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for me.