Me Monday | Life Update!

A few days ago marked the 6 month anniversary of this blog! I realise that I’ve missed several Mondays’ worth of posts lately, and haven’t really given any personal updates on the blog itself, so hopefully today will make up for it a little.

What’s New?

I am considering upgrading the blog soon – I’d love my own domain and I feel that it would be more professional and motivate me to produce better content. I’m biding my time until I get a new job though!

I said I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo… then got an idea. Review Wednesdays may be few and far between this month as I’m taking more time to write than read. I may share snippets if I feel like it but so far I’m very, very far behind so there’s not much to share!

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Health wise I know my last update (The Truth) was well, not good to say the least. I was getting some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sorted but, perhaps ironically, by the time the letter came through at the start of September I wasn’t actually well enough to make the phone call to book my first appointment, so I missed my chance there. I’m doing okay without, though – I’ve never had therapy before and although I’m sure I would benefit from it I am able to cope without. At the moment things are ok, and looking up all the time, so I think I’m fine without for now. Onwards and upwards!

Other than the above, my life is pretty dull at the moment really! There are a few blog opportunities coming up though, and I am looking forward to Christmas and my birthday (cough 54 days cough).

To Be Read

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I have an ever-growing to-be-read pile at the moment! It feels like I finish one book and buy at least two more! Here are some of the physical ones I have:

-A Monster Calls – it feels like I bought this an age ago, and still haven’t read it! I’ll get to it eventually!

– Daughters of the Witching Hill – I bought this just before Halloween but didn’t get the chance to read it then.

-Suite Francaise – “If in doubt, read historical fiction” is slowly becoming my life motto. This has a really interesting back story so will hopefully be a good read!

-Humans – I know, I know, another Matt Haig. This came into the charity shop where I work and I had to pick it up. I am intentionally putting it at the bottom of the pile to mix my reading up, so it’ll be a while before I get to it!

-Reckless – I got this around the same time I got A Monster Calls, but I don’t really know what to do with it. I realised when I got it home that it’s actually an uncorrected proof, and much shorter than the published copy. I think I’ll probably get a copy of the published edition and possibly read both to compare, but I just don’t have the time or drive at the moment to read the same book twice!

So that’s me, pretty much.  What’s going on with your life? Are you on top of your TBR? Give me an update of your own!

See you soon,

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Me Monday | Very Superstitious…

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?

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Is this the face of evil? I mean she is, but not because of her colour!

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,

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Review Wednesday | Book Review – The Red Tent

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Her name is Dinah. In the Bible her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the Book of Genesis that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. The Red Tent is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah’s voice, it opens with the story of her mothers – the four wives of Jacob – each of whom embodies unique feminine traits, and concludes with Dinah’s own startling and unforgettable story of betrayal, grief and love. Deeply affecting and intimate, The Red Tent combines outstandingly rich storytelling with an original insight into women’s society in a fascinating period of early history and such is its warmth and candour, it is guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of women across the world.

The Red Tent is a new perspective on an old tale. The story of Jacob/Yaqub is recognised and widely spread in all 3 main monotheistic religions, as are the stories of his father, Isaac and son Joseph (think technicolour dream coat, not Mary). The Red Tent tells the much lesser known story of Dinah, Jacob’s only named daughter.

I’ll say it straight up; if you’re squeamish about sex, menstruation and childbirth, this is not the book for you. The title alludes to the tent in which the women of Dinah’s childhood and early adulthood waited out their periods and gave birth. The story often centres on these topics – Dinah is never hidden from these issues as a child, and trains as a midwife as an adult. For women in this period, time spent in the red tent allowed for bonding and sisterhood in a way that normal working life did not; all of the women’s cycles in the camp were synced (also with the cycle of the moon – yes this is possible), meaning they all spent 3 days together every month. There is a large sense of sisterhood in the book, however it isn’t unrealistic or romanticised – the women disagree and fight on several occasions. Rebecca, Jacob’s mother, ruthlessly casts out Dinah’s cousin because her mother and the women of her camp did not follow the same tradition of the red tent.

Although most of the book is set after Dinah goes to Shechem (it’s not spoilers if the origin texts are thousands of years old!) and therefore features little of the physical red tent after this point, the bonds between women, particularly surrounding childbirth, remain strong. The novel shows woman power at its most real – the good, the bad and the bloody!

For me personally, the book felt almost nostalgic. I was born and raised Catholic, and although I’m not much of a believer now these are figures that I grew up hearing about. I don’t believe that you have to be religious or familiar with the religious teachings of the story to enjoy this book, but for me it added a layer of familiarity that certainly didn’t go amiss. Anita Diamant offers a brilliant new perspective on traditional tales and provides a more well-rounded and sympathetic view of the time period and Dinah’s story. It is incredibly well researched and I would say it would be an intriguing read for anyone.

Have you read this? What did you think? Are you religious?

See you soon,

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