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Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

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REVIEW: Tenth of December by George Saunders

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Why was it, she sometimes wondered, that in dreams we can’t do the simplest things?

George Saunders, Tenth of December (2013)

The ten short stories of George Saunders’ Tenth of December reside in the not-too-distant future where there is a growing pressure to conform – to think, and feel, and act a certain way- and there are drugs to help you do it. Worryingly, it’s a world that doesn’t seem that far away from our own. It’s a world driven by money, appearances and material gain. Doesn’t that sound all too familiar?

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5 Short Story Collections I’ve Read

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In my humble opinion, short story collections don’t get half the recognition they deserve. Perhaps the fact I write my own short stories makes me biased, but most short story collections I have read I’ve loved.  Here are 5 I’ve particularly enjoyed (in no particular order):

  1. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
  2. Dubliners by James Joyce
  3. Saints and Sinners by Edna O’Brien
  4. The Woman and Her Little Dog and Other Short Stories by Anton Chekov
  5. Pieces edited by Stephen Chbosky

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BOOKISH FINDS: Blood Work and Rupture

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Poetry, I’m afraid to say, is a writing form I’ve disregarded in the last few years. Part of it is down to the way it was taught in school, but largely it’s to do with the fact that I’ve prejudged poetry based on my own cringe-worthy attempts as a teenager. Luckily they are all buried in the abyss known as ‘Documents’, and I’ve come to realise that just because I read two or three drab poems in a classroom, and wrote a hundred more angst-ridden ones in my bedroom, doesn’t mean that all poetry is the same. It’s like saying every novel is the same. It’s ridiculous.

I’ve been introducing myself gently through poetry events at The Bluecoat, which I didn’t just tolerate, I enjoyed. I bought the books to prove it.

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REVIEW: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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“But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn’t know existed.”

Brideshead Revisited is the story of young Oxford student Charles Ryder and his growing infatuation with the Flyte family, residents of the impressive Brideshead estate. Charles first comes into contact with the Flyte’s through the charismatic second son Sebastian who defines his University years and arguably the rest of his life.

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Books I Started but Never Finished

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As a self-confessed book-lover, I always feels a little bit ashamed when I put a book down before I’ve finished it. And it may feel like defeat, like maybe you’ve missed the point, but it’s important to remember that some books just aren’t for you and no matter how much you try you just can’t push past the first few chapters. It’s okay. If we all liked the same things then conversations would never turn into passionate debates. Life would be pretty dull. So, here’s a handful of books (that I can remember) that I never managed to finish:

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
  3. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

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