Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt | Book Review

Let me just start this review by saying that this book took me five months to read. I am a quick reader; the last book that took me a long time to read was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (a year and a half if anyone was wondering), and that was back in 2003. I can get through a book in a day, thus the length of time it took me to finish this, also noting that it was my 'travel' book at the time (including four flights, accumulating nearly 30 hours in total), my opinions of this book should already be fairly evident...

Essentially, the book follows Theo, a boy who loses his mother when a bomb goes off in the museum. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler. The psychological impact of this is in essence the underlying theme of the entire book. The painting, The Goldfinch by Fabritius of 1654, actually comes into it very little. Yet it is what Theo takes from the aftermath of the museum, given to him by a man who is dying there. The book then follows his life, which does veer on being one of those where things seem to just go from bad to worse. Or at the very least, they don't seem to ever go very well.

I started reading this book last August. I then finished it, desperately in December, to avoid having to bring it into the new year with me. I had kept on reading good reviews about it. It won the Pulitzer Prize. It was New York Times Bestseller. Everyone (seemed to have) loved it. Yet there I was, not hating it, but being so completely indifferent and unmoved by it, that I just became disillusioned with it. On numerous occasions when I was reading it in public, people stopped me and asked me if I was enjoying it. All I was ever capable of responding was with an audible 'Ehh...'
Don't get me wrong. The book is beautifully written; Tartt's writing style is one of my favourites and something that cannot be faulted. Her way with words is extraordinary. But the story and the characters...nothing captivated me. Not to mention it held nothing of the story I was expecting. Again, this may be through only fault of my own, in that I never read book blurbs, due to an immense fear and hatred of spoilers of any kind. Thus instead of a  beautiful story about a wonderful painting, I had 700 odd pages of the life of someone suffering with PTSD. 

Note that I mentioned I finished this three months ago. And am still bitter about it. This was reignited in me as I just read a review of it in which someone is a quarter of the way through and was raving about it. And I sat here going 'Why!? Just why!?' (For anyone who knows me, you will be able to imagine me saying this, and the gesticulation that went along with it). I am convinced that nobody actually likes this book. That it is all a ruse, which everyone is hiding behind because everybody else is. But I am here to bring you from that!
You do not need to love this book. I would never say do not read something, books are extremely subjective matters, but just keep in mind that there seems to be a conspiracy regarding the enjoyment of this book. I have discussed it with manymany people, and all of them have felt the same way as me about it. So stop with the positive reviews of The Goldfinch. If you don't like the charcters and their development, that's fine. If you don't like the storyline, that's fine. Yet if you cannot appreciate the way in which it has all been written, then that it not fine.
And with that, I shall leave you to make your own decisions upon this book.

Have you, or would you read The Goldfinch?

p.s. I realise that this turneed into more a book rant, than review...but at least it was honest!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Keeping Your S#!? Together

Last Wednesday I got back from a really great trip with Mother and my sister; we went from Madison to Vegas to San Francisco and then all departed our separate ways from there.
When I got back, nearly everyone I spoke to had had some sort of breakdown, or was on the verge of one. I was not exempt from this, despite just bobbing along in my little post-holiday ship, I was a mess waiting to happen. Mine happened yesterday (remember all those posts I made from my tablet because my laptop had died last year, twice? Well it's near-death yesterday elicited a twenty minute sob whislt cradling it in the union yesterday fifteen minutes before my second midterm of the day. My laptop and I have bene through more together than some couples, I swear).
And after then spending last night until the early hours doing literally nothing, other than talking with one of my best friends, and helping her with work every now and then, it occurred to me that sometimes we can't all just keep it together, all of the time.

But here is a list of some of the things that might help at least take your meltdown a peg or two!

- Tea. Obviously.

- Just stop. Stop whatever you are doing. Take a deep breath. Here I will quote Elliot from  Scrubs, 'Everything then just slows down.'

- If you know everything is about to overwhelm you, tell someone. But maybe try and find that one friend that isn't also on the verge of the same thing, because instead of lifting each other up, you will both more than likely bring each other down.

- Try and wear matching underwear. I'm telling you, when you suddenly remember that everything underneath matches, it makes your whole outlook on a life a whole lot better.

- Go to bed that little bit earlier. Turn everything off. And just sleep. Put some relaxing music on if need be; I know I cna't really sleep without music when there are 65659684736843 things going on in my mind all at once.

I don't know about you, but Spring Break is almost upon us here at Madison, and if I was back at home right now I would already be on my loong Easter break. So the end is nigh!

We can all get through these stressful times together!

p.s. I am not advocating that we should all just have a meltdown, but sometimes, as my Philosophy professor told me this week, it's perfectly normal to cry if you just need to cry!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

World Book Night 2015 - I'm A Giver Again!

It is three whole years since I posted this picture to my tumblr, celebrating that I had been selected a giver for World Book Night 2012. I can remember the exact day I was hearing about it. I was waking up in the back of my Dad's car after having been to a university open day. They were discussing it on the radio. A night where volunteers give out copies of one of their favourite books to promote reading? I NEEDED to be involved.
It was the first thing I did when I got back home that day. I looked it up. I applied. And I was chosen. And every year since then I have applied, and thankfully be chosen again!

This year I am giving away copies of  'If God Was A Rabbit' by Sarah Winman. This book has bene on my list to read for a long time and am really happy it's been given to me as my chosen book!

World Book Night happens every year on April 23rd. There are events organised all over, especially around cities and book shops. It is one of my favourite nights of the year and am soso happy to be involved again! I am not actually in England to pick up my books come April (the parents get that job), so I will be delaying my own WBN... but there will be more to come on this!

If you want more information about WBN, head on over to their website here.

Have you ever taken part in World Book Night?