Happy New Year! Yes, I know I’m 12 days late (and counting – it is the 12th of January as I write this) but it’s still a new year. As is cliché traditional for many bloggers, I figured I’d just write a quick post about a few of my intentions for the new year. I feel like rather than having big sweeping resolutions, I’ve got smaller goals and goals that are either achievable or have to happen eventually. It feels good to organise things I want to achieve in my head, even if they don’t all happen in this year. So, without further ado – my goals for 2019:
Like with ‘If on a Winter’s Night’, I’ll always come crawling back to this little blog. Eventually.
If you’re a big reader, like me, then you’ll know this feeling. You pick up the book, only to put it down unfinished after a few chapters. You pick it up again a while later, determined to finish this time…only to put it down yet again. A third time, this time you’ll do it. Then you remember why you put it down twice before.
That book for me is Italo Calvino’s ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. I like metafiction. I like the concept, and the plot. Much of the book has me reading along happily, but I am still finding it a challenge to get through. It could be me, it could be Calvino – or maybe it’s a bit of both.
Personally, I don’t have much time for reading; I try to do it on my lunch breaks, but I am exhausted lately so that doesn’t happen as frequently as I’d like. As for Calvino, he’s a man of many words. Many, many, many words. He could be describing putting his socks on and make it last 6 pages. His prose is good, don’t get me wrong, but the superfluous rambling narrative voice isn’t the most engaging while you’re just trying to eat your sandwich and have some time away from screens.
This book is a big challenge. I have an English degree and review books on here for fun (admittedly very erratically!) and it’s a challenge, but I will finish it. I am coming for you and your needlessly long prose, Calvino! Look out for the review – even if it takes 6000 years.
See you soon,
So lately I’ve not been having the best luck with books. Over the last few weeks I have picked up two books that I’ve not been able to get into, which poses somewhat of a problem for me. The first book was an ARC, requested via NetGalley. I haven’t reviewed this for one simple reason – I haven’t finished it.
The plot sounded brilliant, right up my street – a museum setting, a powerful female protagonist, a mystery to be solved. On trying to read the book, however, I just couldn’t get into it. The writing was difficult to engage with and the characters just turned out to be annoying. I put it down and instead picked up Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; at 110 pages long I figured I could finish it in a few days and try again with the other book. Here I am two weeks later still struggling with it. (I must admit that I did put it down to read How to Stop Time before publication day.) It’s an important classic and shows imperialist British views wonderfully, but Christ is the protagonist boring. He drones on and on and on about nothing, with some racism thrown in for good measure, in long rambling paragraphs leading nowhere. Now I’m a lover and writer of literary realism, so long rambling paragraphs leading nowhere are kind of my thing, but must be engaging. I find myself opening the book and being unsure if I’m on the right page because it feels like I’ve read it all already.
As a reviewer, I feel like I have a duty to finish these books even though I’m not enjoying them. I can’t only post good reviews to have a well-rounded blog. As a writer, I feel as though it is insulting to accept an ARC from a writer who has clearly worked so hard on their book only to not even finish it, even if my review wouldn’t be great. As a person who unfortunately doesn’t get paid to read books all day (the dream!), though, I don’t feel like have enough time to put energy into books I’m not getting on with. So the question is:
Do I stay or do I go now?
What do you think – do I have a duty as a reviewer to stick it out and finish these books, or should I just move on to the next one on the pile? Help!
See you soon,
Superstition has been around as long as humans have. Good luck charms, rituals to ward off bad energy and precautionary tales have become part of the human condition. Even those who may claim to not believe in anything of the sort may find themselves following a superstition, from avoiding ladders and cracks in the pavement to wearing certain things for certain events (anyone else have exam pants?). Even saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes stems from superstition – there are many variations of this all over the world, but all appear to originate from the belief that a sneeze opens the body up to evil spirits; blessing the person protects them from said evil.
We throw spilt salt over our shoulders, ‘touch wood’, dislike black cats (black animals continue to be the least likely to get adopted from shelters – because of a ridiculous and harmful belief stemming from associations with witches.)
But why, in a world that increasingly rejects the belief in anything other than the known world, do we still have superstition?
Personally, a lot of my beliefs are based on the idea that we simply don’t know what’s out there. We can’t prove that there is a god or higher being, but we can’t solidly disprove it either. There are plenty of things without scientific explanation, and plenty of reasons to believe that there could be something else. Luck and karma may seem farfetched, but energy is definitely something I can get behind; it is common sense that if you have a good attitude towards something that you’re more likely to be successful, right? So why is it so crazy to believe in letting good energy in and keeping bad energy out?
Of course, many superstitions do stem from basic common sense. Walking under a ladder is dangerous to both yourself and the person on the ladder, and walking on uneven paving can make you trip over. I also feel, however, that many superstitions that we still follow nowadays may simply be a case of not wanting to find out what happens if you don’t follow the superstition. People with good luck charms tend to get distressed and thrown off if they forget or lose them, in the same way that not following a routine may stress someone out. There is also a sense of fear; while you may not believe in whatever bad thing will supposedly happen if you don’t follow superstition correctly, there may still be enough fear there to do that thing. This article by The Atlantic discusses this phenomenon – while atheists should have no issue reading statements claiming God will damn them to Hell, it still makes them as uncomfortable as it does religious people. When asked what would happen if a witch offered to cast an evil spell on them, students said that they should accept the spell with no worries – and yet personally most wouldn’t risk it.
It doesn’t matter how logical we are, humans still have some kind of doubt about what exists and what doesn’t. Superstition and religion are thought by many to be irrational and illogical things to believe in. They’re often seen as old explanations for things, which are becoming more and more obsolete with the evolution of science. While this may well be the case, there is clearly something about superstition and supernatural belief that sticks with us – whether it’s force of habit and a matter of tradition or a sincere belief and fear of a judgemental universe with a distaste for umbrellas and love of rabbits’ feet.
Are you superstitious? If so, what superstitions do you adhere too & why? If not, do you believe in luck or karma?
Some more things I read while writing this that were really interesting:
13 Common (But Silly) Superstitions– Live Science
Why Do We Say ‘Bless You’ or ‘Gesundheit’ When People Sneeze? – Howstuffworks
Knock on Wood in Different Languages (or the equivalent sayings) – WordReference
See you soon,
But, don’t literally follow me. That would be creepy. Follow me on Twitter, instead!
That’s right, Always in the Write is on social media! I have so much fun stuff going on this weekend that I can’t wait to write about, and would love to keep you guys updated as it all happens, as well as give you previews of the next reviews, creative pieces, etc. So, instead of waiting for me to post about it all in the week, get updates on Twitter and Instagram!
See you soon,