Monday, 31 December 2012

Best Books Read in 2012

Well, I keep forgetting but today is the last day of 2012.  I don't really know how I feel about this.  In many ways, it's been a terrible year but in others it's been one of the best and I feel like I really know myself now.  I know that I am not going to be an academic; I am going to be a writer (and for the foreseeable future, the cute indie princess at one of Perth's beloved small bookstores).

One thing that I can say for sure is that I read a lot of wonderful books this year, so here is a list of my favourite reads.  Anything published this year is in bold.  I've also included links to any reviews I posted.

* The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
* Beneath the Shadows- Sara Foster
* To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
* The Hunger Games trilogy- Suzanne Collins (I know, I know, how lame...)
* Bye, Beautiful- Julia Lawrinson
* The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary-Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
* The Drowner - Robert Drewe
* We Need to Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver
* The Slap- Christos Tsiolkos
* All That I Am- Anna Funder
* The Prisoner of Heaven- Carlos Ruiz Zafon
* The Night Circus- Erin Morgenstern
* The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky
* Sweet Tooth- Ian McEwan 
* The Casual Vacancy- JK Rowling
* Life of Pi- Yann Martel
* Friday Brown- Vikki Wakefield
* The Paris Wife- Paula McLain



Did you read any of these?  What did you think?  What were your favourite reads of this year?  Join the discussion in the comments below.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Summer Reading List: Friday Brown

Friday Brown
Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing

Goodreads

Friday Brown is quite possibly the best book I have read all year.  I read it with a breathless anticipation, hung off every word on the page, and felt heartsick when Friday did.  It is a book filled with poignant and subtle imagery and characters so realistic that you start to wonder if you've actually known them your whole life.

It begins with a mother and daughter telling stories.  The mother tells the daughter about the family curse.  Each woman in the Brown family for generations has drowned on a Saturday, and so Vivienne has named her daughter Friday in the hopes that she will ward off the curse.  "Run like hell," she tells Friday.  "Or dive in."  These simple words seem like a mantra for living, and they stay with Friday on her journey.  When Vivienne succumbs to a cancer- she drowns in the fluid that builds up in her lungs- Friday hits the road.  She meets Silence, a lovable, mute take on the Artful Dodger and he brings her back to his place.  He and his friends- Carrie, Bree, Joe, AiAi, the irritable beauty queen Darcy, the menacing Malik and the captivating but dangerous leader Arden- take Friday in.  Together they squat, doing whatever they can to make enough money to stay.  Meanwhile, the curse seems to be creeping up on Friday.

While this is a Young Adult book by category, the voice of Friday is anything but whiny and teenage.  Friday is very human.  She is faced with several difficult choices and battles personal demons without whining and without getting distracted by boys at every turn.  For the despondent mother I spoke to on Saturday who could not find a YA book which was not dystopian or valley-girl, this book is what you are looking for.  The style- down to earth but poetic- is reminiscent of John Marsden's Tomorrow series, and the book is peppered with imagery from Australian history and fairy tales/ mythology.  I particularly liked the way that the book was wholly grounded in reality whilst at the same time conjuring the idea of water as a menacing figure coming after Friday.  It is a beautifully written book.

And I give it five out of five!

:)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Summer Reading List: Shallow Breath

Goodreads
"How far would you go to save someone you love?"

Desi Priest returns to her seaside home after two years in prison.  What she did has polarized her friends and family.  Her daughter Maya is growing up without a mother, but she still feels Desi's influence when Luke, the town firebrand, begins bringing injured joeys to her caravan.  Pete, who has never stopped believing in or loving Desi, is still dealing with the consequences of supporting her.  He's had to give up working with the orang utans he loves to look after the woman he loves.  And her brother Jackson has met a girl who knows something that Desi does not.  Plus, everyone knows something more than they will say about the thing Desi did.

This is a complex novel with multiple plots, most of them revolving around human reactions to looking after animals.  There are dolphins, whale sharks, orang utans and elephants, all of their plights heart breaking and moving.  In fact, in some cases, their plights are more heartfelt than those of the human characters.  My one concern with this novel is that the two mothers in the novel, Hester and Marie, are two 2D.  Their stories are integral to the climax, but I feel too distant from them.  Their husbands, in particular Rick, are larger than life but the women fade in the background against the huge cast of characters.  My favourite character was Jackson.

Set on the coast in a Northern town near Two Rocks, this is a book which reminds me of the sea-loving work of Tim Winton.  As a lover of the ocean, it was brilliant to read this book on a hot summer day and feel as if I were floating in the water.  This book has a beautiful pace, and it is structured in such a way that as a reader you are constantly curious, asking "Why?", "What happened?" and then, tantalizingly, being pulled into flashbacks.

Give this book a go!

Three stars.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Bookworm in your Life


One: For the burgeoning chef... Delicious Home Cooking or Nigellissima

Two: For the fiction reader.... The Secret Keeper or The Casual Vacancy (Both out in beautiful but pricey hard cover- the perfect gift for people who can't wait for the paperback!)

Three: For the crime lover... The Racketeer

Four: For the Young Adult... Looking for Alaska

Five: For the Sport fan... This is Me (Ian Thorpe) or Malthouse

Six: For the historically minded... Pacific 360  or Eureka

These titles can all be sourced here.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Summer Reading List: The Vintage Teacup Club

The Vintage Teacup Club
Vanessa Greene
9780751548501

Goodreads


The popular 'club' novel has been around for some time now, with several examples including Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club being adapted into movies based on their great critical reception.  Like TJABC, The Vintage Teacup Club follows multiple viewpoints and story lines with the club providing a centre and point of discussion and relief for each of the characters.  There is Alison, who is a retro queen with two daughters and a husband, who makes her money through vintage handicrafts- but she is facing the difficulties of raising teenagers-, Maggie who is unlucky in love and Jenny, whose impending marriage has her freaking out about a missing mother.  These are the key story lines.  For me, this book falls flat because these plots are allowed to take a back seat in comparison to the mission of the club, the finding of 100 vintage tea cups for the group to share.

It is a neat premise.  Tea sets and vintage collectables have enjoyed a recent growth in popularity, and I will admit that I was drawn to the cute cover and the promise of an easy, nostalgic read.  However, I was disappointed to find that ALL three characters were vintage obsessed, and too similar for it to be a coincidence.  To me, it seems like this book was written in an attempt to celebrate an interest in all things twee without any actual intent to explore the deeper concerns of the book.  For example, Jenny is haunted by ideas of there being no Mother of the Bride at her party, but when her mother shows up she sends her away, and the only resolution of the tension is provided by a trite letter in the epilogue.  And Maggie and Jenny suspect that Alison's husband Pete is cheating on her, but they never say anything and Alison never hints that she knows, and again, there is a line in the epilogue that explains it away.  This is a novel with multiple crisis points which are glossed over, and lack dénouement.

Things I did like about this book include its multi-generational view points and its easy, conversational style.  IF you're looking for something to read on holidays this year, then you might find this a good book to take along, because it doesn't require too much thinking,  and you wouldn't be too upset if you had to leave it behind when your suitcase got too full.

One out of five broken teacups.

Sorry.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Summer Reading List: The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper
Kate Morton
9781742374376

I know a lot of people who are thinking about splurging on this one for Christmas.  It is a whopping $35 a copy, which is exorbitant for a book, I know!  Luckily, I got my copy free from Allen and Unwin- I won it by retweeting a link and I couldn't believe my luck.  This means that I, poor starving student (well actually, not anymore...hmm...) can review this lovely tome for you all before you part with your cash.

I've met Kate at a launch of her last book, The Distant Hours which was hosted by my local Dymocks. She also replied to a rather squee-ing fangirl email I sent her a few years back after I devoured her first two novels.  She's Queensland's very own Glamazon author.  Gorgeous, a mother, and a fabulous author, it was almost too much that she was nice as well, but she was.

But far be it from me to try and win your support of this book with a discussion of it's author.  After all, some of the meanest people out there can be excellent writers and it stands to reason that sometimes the nice ones... well they suck.

I have mixed feelings about The Secret Keeper.  Kate's earlier novels captivated my young imagination.  They were books that I read in a flurry of excitement, and once finished I was totally inspired.  The Shifting Fog, or The House at Riverton as it's known in other countries was the kind of book that I wished with all my heart that I had written.  But The Secret Keeper, while deftly plotted falls a little short in the romance department.  I think to some extent, this is a book which strives a little too hard for a standard set by previous publications.  At times, the prose becomes bogged down by flowery adjectives and introspective thinking.  It says in about 400 pages what it could probably say in two.  If you can forgive that and allow yourself to be swept up in the story however I think you will find that this is captivating, clever read, and once again a sort of love letter to great literature- this time, making reference to Peter Pan.  The book is also set during the London Blitz which is a popular topic among romantic historians.

If you liked The Distant Hours, have a read of The Secret Keeper.

I give this book three and a half out of five.


**If you would like me to do a tutorial on how to do the make up look from the cover of this book, let me know in the comments.**

*What was your favourite Kate Morton book?*

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

What Watching Weeds Has Taught Me About Business.

Get Rich, but Do Whatever you Can Not to Die Whilst Trying...

So you've finished your University Degree.  Congratulations.  Maybe you have a job that you like, flipping burgers or bagging groceries.  Maybe you hate it.  You're there a few days a week, you make some spending money and you can usually afford petrol and your phone bill, and that's great.  But now November is no longer part of the summer break- it's just November.

It's time to start thinking about a Career.

If you're me, you do this thinking whilst reading novels and watching whole series' of TV shows you missed out on while you were studying.  Lately that's meant the Showtime classic Weeds which stars Mary-Louise Parker as a suburban housewife turned marijuana dealer, who has been forced into financial despair by the sudden death of her husband.

Source

While I think the real message of the television show is a) damned good entertainment and b) a comprehensive, creative and dramatic look at the human condition (wow, deep), there are a few things that I think this show can teach the graduate job hunter, and I'm going to share those with you today.


1.  Do what it takes.

Be a jack of all trades.  Take odd jobs, take temp jobs, be flexible.  Okay, so you got a degree in writing and you want to work as a publisher or a writer, but you find a job that advertises for someone to write web content.  Don't think "Well, this isn't exactly what I wanted" and click off the advertisement!  It's SO hard to get a graduate job because most places want experience, but there is no experience to be had without first getting a job.  It's going to be tough for the first little while, but if that means taking a job which will OCCASIONALLY give you work in a related field to the one you're qualified in, whilst keeping your retail or hospitality job, then you should consider it.  You never know how good it is to have money until you don't any more.

2.  Have standards.

Nancy may sell pot, but she never sells to kids and she never traffics or sells heroin.  Get it?  Never do anything that would hurt yourself or others, and keep your integrity and dignity in tact.

That being said; photocopying and making coffee is NOT an affront to your dignity.  It's the ground floor.  Get in on it.  Everyone else did.

3. Cultivate a skill set.

Part of Nancy's problem is that prior to her husband's death, she was a housewife.  She didn't have a job, and there's been no mention of a degree.  What could she do to pay the bills and continue supporting a household?  If you are constantly learning new skills, even if it's just Microsoft Power Point then you'll always have something to put on your resume.

4.  Network.

Business can sometimes be about who you know.  I know people who have been offered work at parties, and one of my own jobs is with a friend's mother who knew what kind of thing I was set up to do.  Go to places where you might meet people in your industry, be professional and prepared, and make contacts.  You never know when they may come in handy.  


5. Tough it out.

The number one thing that Weeds has taught me is that the real world can be tricky to get by in.  So long as you can keep your chin up and think clearly- and some love and support from friends and family can help too- then you can find your way out of most problems.

Of course you can choose to never take risks, but I somehow doubt any big, life changing opportunity is going to find you in bed or at a check out.




What tips do you have for Graduate job hunters?

What are your favourite job hunting stories?

What life lessons have you learned from TV?




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Diary of an Honours Student: The Final Entry

Hello readers,

I know that some of you may have just skim read the updates that I have been posting about the progression of my thesis over the past year.  And that's fine.  The purpose of these near-weekly updates has been to check in with myself mentally; to record what happens to me; and to hopefully inspire just one person to attempt what I have attempted this year.

I am not going to lie and say that this year has been all sunshine and puppy dogs.  But I will say this.  Studying honours is an extremely worthwhile pursuit, and an excellent way to learn about yourself.  I do not mean in a purely academic sense.  Of course you learn your own limitations; for example I have learned that I am capable of being a serious writer who works with research and deadlines, but that academic work is not my cup of tea.  You will learn about your interests, including cultivating some new ones.  But you will also learn that you are strong and capable.  That whatever the world throws at you, you can take it, and you can thrive despite it.

The reason that I am writing this post is today I handed in my final thesis.  And now begins the wait for my marks.  Hopefully those will be somewhat rewarding.  In the meantime...

Finishing, coming out the other side of the tunnel, being this new person, stronger, smarter and more me than ever...

That is the best reward I could have gotten.

That, and a few drinkies this Friday.  :)

Wishing you well,

Elimy.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Summer Reading List: Lola Bensky

Lola Bensky
Lily Brett
9781926428475

Goodreads
Lola, a rock journalist, is followed by the dead.  She interviews a slew of famous rockstars- asking them boring, deadpan questions, and then getting distracted and talking about the traumatic experiences of her parents in a Nazi death camp. She then goes off on reveries in her head, remembering awkward scenes from her childhood.  The trauma of living with parents who are so altered by their experiences as Polish Jews causes Lola to struggle with her weight and with anxiety.  

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with this book.  On the one hand, I love the subject matter.  On the other hand, I hate the awkward parallel that Brett tries to draw between the trauma of Auschwitz and the trauma of Free Love and drugs in the sixties and seventies.  I also hate the detached, monotonous narratorial style of this novel, which almost seems to be first person except that the narrator constantly refers to the protagonist by her full name.  Lola Bensky did this, then Lola Bensky did that.  The novel also jumps around in time, sometimes in the middle of the paragraph. 

Yet, I couldn't stop reading.

Go figure.

Someone tell me why I didn't throw this book aside, please?

2 out of 5 false eyelashes.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Summer Reading List: The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy
JK Rowling
9780316228534

Goodreads
It's actually been a few weeks since I have read this, but absolutely everyone who comes into the bookstore that I work at asks me what this book is like, and I thought I would put a little review up for all of you out there in the blogosphere.  It is a big book, and it does retail for about $40 Australian, but it was also a best seller before it even hit stores late last month.  The big question becomes, then, is it worth it?

The story documents the lives of several families from the town of Pagford in England, following the death of town councillor Barry Fairbrother.  Prior to his death, Barry's pet project had been triumphing the welfare of people in the neighbouring Fields, a housing estate filled with prostitutes and heroin addicts.  It kinds of goes without saying that it's not for kids and it's CERTAINLY NOT Harry Potter, although the sheer Britishness of both sets of writing is the same.  Rowling has a way of looking at things which, while original, shows them as they really are, and her characters are well drawn without being mythologised.  None of the characters on the page can be seen as a hero, although some will endear themselves to you more than others.  You will sympathise with Andrew, whose father is an abusive Prick, and root for Krystal, who despite being a massive 'chav' (I think of her as looking like Little Britain's Vicky Pollard) is really just trying to get by in a world that doesn't give her a fair go.  This is a book about life either side of the poverty line.  It is a book about tolerance.  It is a book about selfish people, and the tragedies that can come from their lack of compassion.

Have tissues on hand.

4 out of 5 ballot papers.

Summer Reading List: The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife
Paula McLain
9781844086689
Goodreads




It is infrequent that a contemporary work of fiction moves me to such lengths as could be described as obsession, but Paula McLain's account of the ill fated love story of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson achieved just that.

McLain paints a picture of Jazz Age Paris which is peopled with the figures of literary mythology, from the Fitzgeralds to Gertrude Stein.  (I myself am fascinated by Zelda Fitzgerald.)  The extravagance, the drinking and the infidelity make that world sparkle, but also colour it with pain and heartbreak.  All in all, the book makes a poignant statement about the nature of heartbreak that will have you sobbing in sympathy.

The writing style is well paced and suitably decorative, without a hint of cliche or purple prose.  This is a rare combination in a book which, while classified as literary fiction, is ostensibly a romance.  It is a perfect introduction to the writing of the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway himself, and it will have you wanting to dance the charleston and drink absinthe until morning.

I give this book 5 out of 5 charging bulls.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Diary of an Honours Student: Three Weeks To Go

Dear Me-Three Weeks From Now

Congratulations.

I hope you know how significant what you have achieved this year has been.  You don't have your results yet, and they may well be disappointing but right now, I want you to sit down and take a few deep breaths.  There are things for you to consider, so don't think about the future and don't think about the past.  Think about this moment.


This year you wrote a major research assignment, largely on your own.  Your supervisors supervised.  Your friends were there for moral support and epic bitch sessions.  Your mother was there for the brunt of the emotional breakdowns.  But no one opened those books for you, no one wrote the words that were on that final copy that you handed in, and no one lovingly (misguidedly?) picked the topic that you felt so strongly about but you.  You are awesome and possibility rushes towards you.



I'll keep this letter brief.  I have things to do.  I am becoming you!  I am working hard on your thesis so that you might exist, you carefree, happy thing.  I hope that you are doing all the things you planned.  I hope you read as many books a day as you wish.  I hope you've gotten your nails done, been to the beach.  I hope you had a cocktail for me.  Your life has felt like it was falling apart a few times this year, but you've held it together.  You always deserve to be proud of what you accomplished.



Lots of love from,

Elimy

(Location:  The desk, surrounded by papers and empty tea-mugs
Status:  Editing.
Hair:  Messy)



Saturday, 6 October 2012

If You Only Watch One Thing Today...



J.K. Rowling's life is inspiring at the best of times, but right now with four months to go until my thesis is due, hearing her talk about how failing can sometimes be just what you need, she is especially my hero.  I'm also reading The Casual Vacancy, which so far I love but I'm not even 100 pages in yet so don't quote me.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Diary of an Honours Student: God Only Knows What Week It Is!

Today, I went on campus to attend my weekly yoga class, and I had a horrible feeling that the university campus was no longer my campus.

The end is in sight.  Now that October the first has been and gone, November the first is less than a month away in any sense of the word month, whether it be a matter of four weeks, or a matter of flipping the page in your calendar.  Less than a month from now, I will be binding two copies of the colossal research paper known as my thesis, handing them in, and then going out to celebrate.

I can see this happening, too.  I'm stressed, but focussed.  Every morning I get up and I just want to get to it.  I know that I have to polish my concluding chapter, rewrite the short story chapter based on notes from my creative writing supervisor, write a commentary that ties the story to the thesis.  There are also a tonne of books by West Australian authors sitting on my desk waiting for me to review them for you all, but you're just going to have to keep your trousers on in regard to that!



Finishing seems so real that I have started to plan for things to do when it's over:

* Read books
* Wear pretty clothes
* Go to gigs
* Go to Melbourne
* Go to Paris
* Get a real job

How's your end of year workload treating you?  What are your plans?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

5 Books for a Break Up

I've read too many books.

In my head, Elizabeth gets her Mr Darcy and she keeps him, Cathy and Heathcliff are together in the afterlife, and Harry and Ginny DO grow up to have kids named after their lost loved ones.

But just as books can set you up for heartbreak, they can also save you from it.  Here are my top picks for the end of the affair.



1. Breakfast at Tiffanys

Nobody does composure as stylishly as Audrey Hepburn.  Now I know that the book came first but to be fair, you say "Breakfast at Tiffanys" and you automatically think of the film.  The cat.  Audrey in that black dress smoking a cigarette on one of those long, tapered cigarette holders.  And there isn't a better attitude to have at a time like this than the one Holly Golightly has when she tells Paul she simply cannot read bad news until she's got her lipstick on.  Here here!

source


Perfect for any disenfranchised princess or disillusioned dame, Truman Capote's novel of the same name is a novel about unrequited love, freedom, style, and happy endings not always involving the guy and the girl getting together to make mushy faces at one another.  If you love the writing of J.D. Salinger (which I do), then you will love Capote's pithy, brilliant prose.  Plus, it doesn't hurt a smidge that when you're bonding with gorgeous skateboarders over a mutual love of Salinger at the bookshop where you work, you can pick up a Capote and recommend he tries that next.

I do love a man who reads.


2. Adorkable (Or any other suitably fluffy YA novel NOT featuring Vampires or the Supernatural)

Sometimes a trip back to blissful, self-centred teenagerdom is just what the doctor ordered.  Light and fluffy, this book is the perfect night-or-two read with minimal deep thinking about philosophy required.  The moral?  Either, the lonely are never truly alone or, ALL HAIL THE INTERWEBZ. Either way, I enjoyed the book despite its inane focus on the "lingo" of teens today and the self-serving celebration of hipsters.  Jeane, while so unbelievably obnoxious for the first 100 pages, redeems herself with having actual substance, while Michael Lee leaves you with the hope that maybe there really is a boy out there who will accept you despite your nasty fashion choices and propensity for sulking.  Then again, he is a fictional character created by a woman...

Source: goodreads.com


Also a celebration of blogging!  Hooray!

3. It's Called A Breakup Because It's Broken

From the author who brought you He's Just Not That Into You (and his wife) comes this smart girl's break up user manual.  Tempted to mentally flagellate yourself by committing humiliating acts of lost love?  Read this book first!  The authors have included hilarious anecdotes about people far far crazier than you, and their positive take on life is totally infectious.  I found myself laughing out loud... ON THE TRAIN!

Thanks to Yvonne for the recommendation!


4. Puberty Blues

Nothing puts a girl off men like dirty, scruffy surfer boys demanding Chiko Rolls and expecting you to pay off your Friendship Ring in the back of a station wagon.

Source, plus a pretty accurate list of why the show is awesome.
Seriously though, now that you don't have a boyfriend to a) hog your time and b) judge you for watching this sort of show, you can go nuts and enjoy the heart-warming transition from average book to awesome TV show.  In fact, even if you do have a fella, watch it.

5. The Perks of Being A Wallflower

This one comes quite some time after the fact, but I know a lot of people who are going through break ups right now, and I thought it was really important to finally finish this post.  I just finished this book last night after being prompted to read it by the trailer for the film.  Observe:



If you liked Catcher in the Rye or We Need to Talk about Kevin, you will love this story.  Be warned, however!  While this book will make you happy, it will also make you very very sad at times.

I think most of all, though, the book captures those essential moments in life where you know who you are and what you want.

We are infinite, in other words.




So believe in love, because that's important.  But also believe in yourself, and believe in having great friends, and good standards, and goals, and idols, and surround yourself with the things that make you happy.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Diary of An Honours Student and WINNER of Bookish Charm Giveaway

Losing Track of Time and Falling Behind


I'm not a huge fan of the fact that the keep calm slogan is turning up absolutely everywhere, but sometimes the moment calls for one of these.  Particularly when the poster speaks the truth.

There are something like five weeks left until my thesis is due.  (At least I HOPE it is five weeks!!!)  I have done three drafts of my story and one and a half of my theoretical exegesis.  I am slowly, day by day making progress...

Okay... so maybe I am watching Gilmore Girls every single day in the background but the word count goes up!  And how much fun is it to watch this:

I just want to put it on a loop and watch again and again....

All that aside, I wouldn't say that I am actually behind.  At the moment my goal is to write 1000 words a day on either project or a combination of the two, but I let myself off the hook if I only manage to write say... 400 words of text that feels like it belongs to part of a breakthrough.  Deadlines, while scary, are also useful.  I think of my deadlines like having a lid on a crate full of helium balloons.  If you want to deliver the balloons in tact, the lid is necessary.  

If you're currently doing your thesis too, or you're thinking about it, you'll know that this part of the year is the most exhilarating, stressful, tiring, intelligence-affirming emotional rollercoaster to date.  Yep, that's right, it's worse than cramming for final year exams.

First of all, there are really no guidelines.  Your supervisor can look over your work but they can't edit it for you.  They can't tell you what to write.  They can suggest what you study but not influence what you get out of it.  And they don't set the topic... at this point, you may be thinking "What on earth did I pick THAT topic for?"  And the answer is irrelevant... because too bad, your thesis is due in five weeks, sucker.  

Second of all, the weather is changing.  Some days it's beautiful and the hint of summer is in the air.  You think to yourself "Self, you've been working hard lately, why don't you take your copy of Pride and Prejudice to the park and read under a shady tree????"  (which does sound like a marvellous idea, doesn't it?)  So you do, or your go shopping, or you watch a movie or take a nap... and the next thing you know it's week 9.  Or at least you think it's week 9, because you don't have classes so you've lost track of time.  The only time that makes sense to you is November 2nd.  D-Day.

Third, things are starting to make sense.   You're writing things and they're sounding pretty professional.  You use words like heretofore.  You don't know if you're using them correctly but you're using them.  And you feel awesome.  The next day you sit down and try to recreate that feeling but all you can think about is junk food, or taking a shower, or going for a walk... (if this happens to you, don't stress, it WILL happen again, so long as you get the butt to desk chair ratio right.  Put in the hard hours, because you really don't have time to bum around waiting for the thesis muse to show up.)

If you are falling behind, it's time to suck it up.  Chair and desk?  Meet bum.  You guys should get to know each other because you're going to be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks.  Get some chill music, lots of Low GI snacks like fruits and nuts, a bottle of water and get settled.

And remember, this may not be fun, but this is the culmination of something you are passionate about and YOU WILL KICK BUTT IF YOU CHOOSE TO!


A final note of congratulations to the winners of my Bookish Charm giveaway!

The 'Write' Pendant has been won by Jade Carver of  Jade Goes with Everything

The 'I solemnly Swear I am Up To No Good' pendant goes to WrenGirl1991 of Wren's Nest 

and

The 'She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain' pendant goes to Kristen Bee.


Please use the contact me form to send me your postal address and I will get the prizes to you as soon as possible!  Thanks to everyone who entered.



Much love from the stressed out Thesis Writer!

Friday, 14 September 2012

How to Survive A Spending Ban

Every student knows that sometimes the wanting outruns the means.  At those times, it is advisable to put yourself on a bit of a spending ban.  Spending bans, while in the long time can help you save for BIG items like holidays, homes, cars and Christmas, can be depressing as anything while you're actually in the middle of one.  They can also be quite difficult to stick to if you are enforcing it on yourself.

If you've never been on a spending ban before, the 'rules' are:

* You set yourself a goal: either, you won't buy non essential items for a set amount of time, or you won't buy non essential items until you have reached a saving goal.
* Essential items include: food, rent, bills, personal hygiene items, school textbooks  but NOT make up, accessories, clothes, books etc.

I've put myself on a spending ban for the time being, as I've left one of my jobs in order to finish Honours.  (I'm still working one day a week at the bookshop, so I'm not a cliched starving arts student. I also still live with my parents.  Yay Mum and Dad!)  Lately, it's been far too easy to just swipe my savings card whenever I want something... and I don't know about you but something about how easy it all is diminishes how much I appreciate the item.  That's not to say that I don't love my stuff because I do, but I think you know what I mean.  Anyway, here are some ideas for how I will 'survive' the spending ban.

6 Ways to Save Money Without Depriving Yourself! 

1. "Shop the Stash"

This is a term that a lot of beauty bloggers use.  Shopping the stash means gathering together all your half used products and using one of them up instead of going out and buying more.  Want to wear red lipstick?  You own four, you don't need another one!  The added bonus of this idea is that it will clear up a lot of space in your cupboards... just don't forget, reduce, re-use, recycle!

2. Set up a Rewards System.

Can you work out what non essential item you spend most of your money on?  For me, obviously it's books.  I have devised a system whereby, instead of buying a new book every time I see one by an author I love or just one with a pretty cover or an enticing blurb, I have to read the other books I've bought first.  After all, I really wanted to read those books when I chose them, so why should another book get to jump the queue?

In the rewards system, for every ten books I finish from my to be read pile (and this does NOT include library books!) I am entitled to a new book.  I'm hoping that by the time I've read ten, however, I actually don't DESPERATELY need the one I was resisting any more anyway!



3. Make Lists

Okay, so Christmas is still four months away, but if you're anything like me, when you sit down at the end of November and try to write your wish list you have a bit of trouble remembering anything you want because it was either too long ago, or because you got in the habit of buying everything you wanted.  No wonder you always get socks and soap!

Every time you see something you think you might like, write it down.  If you decide you don't want it or you find something you love even more (this is good for things like perfume), then you just cross it off the list.  By the time Christmas comes around, voila, you have the perfect list.  Plus, you'll end up with much less clutter to add to your stash!

4. Home Cooked Meals

Guess what?  Most things that you cook can be frozen!  Instead of buying your lunch every day, why not freeze any leftovers that are hanging around after dinner and defrost them when you're hungry.  Perfect for taking to work, as a lot of places will have microwaves, or saving for after uni. (But if you're in class from 9 til 5 and don't have access to a microwave, by all means have a sausage roll.)  On the same wavelength, dig out that old travel mug and try brewing your own coffee at home for the first cup of the day.  After all, what's the point of having an expensive coffee machine if you're always going to cafes?



5. Confide in a Buddy

Is there one person you tend to go shopping with a lot?  Well, guess what... you've probably cultivated a psychological habit of spending money when you're with them.  If your shopping buddy doesn't know that you're not supposed to be spending money then the cycle is going to continue.  Tell your buddy that you are not able to shop for anything other than essential items.  This means that they can a) not invite you shopping and instead get you to do other fun free things like picnics, bike rides and dvd nights and b) be the voice of reason that asks "Do you really want to swipe your Debit Card?"

6. Host a Clothes Swap party

I can't take credit for this fabulous idea, as I got it from a magazine, but I have to have to have to have one and soon!  Give your friends plenty of notice so that they can give their cupboards a good clean out.  Then, invite everyone over, beg and borrow as many of those clothing racks on wheels as you can find, and try to have one for every guest to hang their clothes on.  Every person who brings clothes is issued "coupons" for the number of items they brought.  They can trade these coupons for clothing from other people's racks for free. If any guest wants to pick more items then they have coupons for, they can negotiate a price with the owner of the garment.

Optional: Cupcakes, Champagne and a fashion show where every girl demonstrates what they have bought to the rest of the group.  Take lots of photos.





There are lots of ways to have fun without spending tonnes of money.  In fact, I think that this experience, while hard, is an important one to have.  Give it a go.  Your bank balance will thank you, at the very least.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Australian Writing Review: Puberty Blues

By Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette
ISBN 9781742759289 (TV tie in edition)


You may more recently be aware of Kathy Lette as the author of The Boy who Fell to Earth but in 1979, she and co-author Gabrielle Carey brought out a book which was to capture the essential essence of what it was like to be a beach-combing teenager.

The book has touched the hearts of many Australians, and the new edition includes quotes from Kylie Minogue and Germaine Greer.  For the last few weeks, thousands of viewers have tuned in to channel ten to watch the television series adaptation, and have fallen in and out of love with Debbie and Sue and their whacky families.

Imagine my surprise then to discover that the book is totally different.  For a start, Debbie and Sue seem totally indoctrinated into the Greenhills mindset, and are completely blasé about drug taking and under-age sex.  At times they seem just as uneducated as the rest of the characters, and without the bad behaviour of the parents to offset this frankly frightening world of peer pressure, the book takes the reader to a depressing, yet compelling place.  I read the book in a sort of wide eyed fugue, comparing the world I was reading about to the one in which I lived, and breathing heavy sighs of relief.  The narration style is clunky and lacking in energy, peppered with confusing sexual slang occasionally explained by footnotes.  Mostly it follows Debbie's point of view, but will sometimes inexplicably switch to Sue's. Supporting characters are two dimensional and walk in and out of the plot interchangably, and sometimes counter-chronologically.

I expected this book to touch my heart and speak to the teenager still residing within me, comforting her.  Instead it made me thankful for the upbringing that I had.  The only blessing was its brevity.

Raw, humorous and honest?  More like crude, awkward and badly behaved.

Two out of five surfboards.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Diary of an Honours Student Week Five and Six

First of all... oh my gosh, week six is over.

Spring has sprung, but wouldn't it be better for all of us students if it hadn't?  The sun has come out, and I have begun to frolic like a little lamb far too often for my own liking.  The end is in sight and yet it's far too easy to just assume future-Emily will worry about that nasty thesis thing.  (And Future Emily, right before she becomes Past Emily, frequently does worry, except then she goes and makes herself endless cups of tea and all is well, except of course the thesis!)  The beginning of this week was actually remarkable UN Springlike however, with a mini cyclone style storm ripping through and preventing me from doing my laundry, and seeing as I spent so much time on the left side of my bed watching television under a blanket, perhaps it would be unfair to blame the weather!

When we last left off, I'd submitted a full second draft of my short story to one of my supervisors. Today, I must do the same with the completed first draft of the theory side of my work.  In the process of writing it, I've discovered that I actually have a more full grasp of what I am talking about, and the number of AHA! moments is comforting.  I am still, however, woefully under the word count in this portion and dismally over in the fiction!  Alas, I am giving away where my loyalties are a bit there, aren't I!  But, I printed the beast off and secured it all in order with a bull dog clip, and doesn't it look just lovely!




It's all aboard the hard work train from here though! (And apparently the terrible metaphor carriage is the only one with seats left...)  I am envisioning myself getting First Class Honours, being offered a job at a major publishing house (Oh, Ms Rambling Elimy, here's a great idea, why don't you have this job in our newly set up Perth Office??? Don't mind if I do!) and being congratulated by... oh I don't know, perhaps Channing Tatum?  Sounds excellent.

Ciao!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Review: Losing It by Julia Lawrinson

Those of you who have read my reviews before will know that Julia Lawrinson is one of my all time favourite YA writers.  Not only does she appear to have a stylistic and emotional range which is triple that of the normal person, but I can honestly say that once upon a time, Skating the Edge changed my life.

It won't come as a surprise then if I tell you that her latest book, Losing It, only took me two days to read, nor that I rudely requested it from the library even though someone else was already reading it.  Oops.  What can I say, if you've had it longer than a week you're just not keen enough!

Losing It seems to have an almost American Pie like premise.  Four friends make a vow to lose their virginity before Leavers (which you Eastern States readers might know as schoolies' week) and plan to compare notes on their various liaisons when they get there.  Unsurprisingly, the initial pledge is somewhat motivated by vodka, as all the best worst decisions are.  Each girl has her own personal barriers to achieving this goal, and the story is told in five parts; one from the point of view of each girl, and one final segment which centres on all of them.  Zoe, the pushy and outgoing, boy-crazy one, sets her sights on her lab partner Matty when it seems apparent that a) he's a shy and nice guy so obviously he would jump at the opportunity to... well, jump Zoe and b) that resident school hot ticket Adam Lenello isn't going to disengage from tonguing the popular girls anytime soon.  Abby, a conservative shy-girl with a whole lot of emotional and religious baggage also finds herself gunning for Matty.  After a family incident, she runs away and meets him at the park; realising that talking to him makes her feel better, Abby decides that she'd like to do a little more than talk, but soon discovers it doesn't make her feel any better.  Mala, strangely not uber-religious but still bound to house arrest by strict Greek parents actually does have a thing for Matty and engineers a devious plot to get him.  It goes horribly wrong, with hilarious results.  In the final section, Matty meets the beautiful Bree at a popular kids' party and they decide to get out of there. But Bree (who funnily enough is similar in both characterisation and naming as the Bee/Bridget character from Ann Brashares' The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants) has a serious impediment to getting the deed done, despite the pact being her idea in the first place.  You'll have to read it to find out what though, because I won't be the one to spoil it for you.

Now either the book is superbly plotted or I am psychic, but I found myself thinking as I read the first section (Zoe's) "Gee, wouldn't it be funny if all four of the girls hooked up with Matty!"  The fact that the idea was ingeniously sown into my impressionable brain is testament to Lawrinson's knack for dramatic foreshadowing.  My one gripe is that the ending seems somewhat rushed.  Okay, so all the girls have documented their first times or lack of them, and they meet at leavers to share, but what about the other stuff?  How do Matty and Mala get to be together after what happened with her parents and grandmother?  Does Bree come to terms with her secret?  Does Abby forgive her horrible brother and make peace with his new child-bride?  And will Zoe ever stop being such a heinous bitch?  (Can you tell I liked her least?)  The final chapter races for some sort of happy ending which while soft and fuzzy, is less than realistic.

Losing It is populated with familiar people, from the Scotch College boys who refuse to acknowledge a world outside of PLC girls to couples getting frisky in cars at Bold Park.  It is a heartily enjoyable book, slightly less dark than Skating the Edge and Bye, Beautiful but honest and thought provoking all the same.

I give this book four out of five backpacks full of prophylactics, and recommend it for ages 15 and up (maybe a mature 13 and up) and for the young at heart.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Feature: Bookish Charm and Erin Johnson!


In late July, I found myself browsing the Etsy website and stumbled across a fantastic store called Bookish Charm.  A few hours and a considerable chunk of change later, I was the proud owner of some beautiful new pendants.


Bookish Charm is the brainchild of Erin Johnson, self-professed booklover from good old U.S. of A.  Her pieces feature quotes from beloved classic books and statement items for the book nerd in everyone.  Handmade, simple and beautiful, these items were a must have for me!

Left: "She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain." (Louisa May Alcott) Bottom right: "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
Erin also puts meticulous effort and love into the packaging of her jewellery; each item arrive in its own handmade box with a quote on the inside lid.

Top left: "Write" pendant.  Centre: One of the gift boxes.
Since they arrived a week ago, I’ve had one around my neck every day, and should you be one of the winners of my giveaway, I have a funny feeling you will too!

Thanks to Erin, I have another set of the same three pendants from my purchase to give away to three eager readers!  But before I tell you what you need to do to get one, here's a message from Erin herself:

I just wanted to say a quick hello and thank Emily for taking the time to host this giveaway. It's always wonderful to meet others who are equally enthusiastic about writing and literature!

Best of luck to all of you that enter, and I hope that you all have a lovely rest of the week. :)

All you have to do to win one of the pendants is follow three easy steps.

1) Follow this blog using Google Friend Connect.
2) Leave me a comment containing your favourite literary quote ever, and stating which piece you    are interested in.
3) Show Erin some love by liking “The Wandering Reader” on Facebook and following her on Twitter if you’ve got one! (You can also read her blog at www.thewanderingreader.com)


There are three pendants to give away, one of each of those featured above, and the winners will be drawn at random, then announced on this blog in mid-September.  Best of luck to you all! 






Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Western Australian Writing Review: Money Street by J.K. Ewers

First of all, this book is so old it doesn't even have an ISBN. It also doesn't have a cover image or a title on the front, only on the spine in gold embossed lettering.  Published by Patersons press in 1948 (in Australia, 1933 if you were in England), Ewers' account of life on a poor but happy street was one of the first fictional portraits of metropolitan Perth.  It continues as one of few!

Elman Day, a veteran of World War One with a stump for a leg, stumbles across Money Street on his way home one day and is captivated by the adopted daughter of the street, a young girl named Betty.  He is soon embroiled in a number of sup-plots, including a farcical attempt at setting up two of the street's older inhabitants on a date, the loss of a prized racehorse, and a rivalry for the affections of Betty.  At first it seems as if each tale, while amusing, has little to do with any other, but in time the author shows his hand and ties the plot together, if at times unconvincingly. The prose style is simplistic and mimics British speech; characters say things like "Golly!" and "Gosh!" so often you may think that you have accidentally borrowed an Enid Blyton tome from the library instead, except for the adult themes of drinking, gambling and prostitution.

I found this book a chore to read, as the pace remained the same throughout the entire novel, including during fight scenes and bushfires.  While the characters' quirks and idiosyncrasies were sweet, sweetness alone does not make a novel.  The ending, without giving anything away, frankly came out of nowhere.

However, as an example of early Western Australian writing, the book is as to be expected, and contains those common themes of horse-racing and back-blocks humour identified by Richard Nile in his book The Making of the Australian Literary Imagination.  Many Australian National myths also rear their heads; The ANZAC legend, love of the empire, the bush and the lost child myth.

Read this book if you are a literary historian, but not if you want a good read.

One out of five skinny racehorses.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Diary of an Honours Student Week Four

How to Stay Motivated

Somewhat ironically, I'd rather watch White Collar than write this post.  Winter is turning to Spring, there are many unread books festering in a pile next to my bed, and while there aren't many good movies showing at the moment, I'd still rather watch Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones go through marriage counselling than spend a few hours agonising over a literature review.

I'm sure you've been in my shoes.

It's important to really understand WHY you are doing something as big as a research thesis, or writing a novel, or starting your own business etc. etc.  When you embark on such a project, ask yourself a few questions.

1. What do you hope to gain from finishing this project?
2. Why did you initially consider the project?
3. What influenced your choice of subject?

In my case, my goal is to work for a publishing house/ manuscript assessment and editing firm/ literary journal/ be a famous writer, all without having to leave Perth for long periods of time.  By doing a research thesis which is ABOUT Western Australian writing, I'm not only learning about those who came before me, I am celebrating them.  At the end of a year, I hope to be in a better position to move into the industry.


If your project reflects you, your goals and your interests, then motivating yourself is a case of gluing butt to chair and letting your fingers fly across the keyboard.

I know that's harder than it sounds.



Why not consider making an inspiration board to hang above your workspace?  Include pictures of things you want, like your perfect house, a pet, a car, a holiday overseas.  Write a mantra in colourful post its, or if not a mantra, a reprimand.  I know someone who has "Attend: You're Paying for It", but you might like to write "You Chose This" or "Next Stop, Paris".  I haven't worked out what I would like to write as my mantra, but I do have a note card which says "It Can Be Fixed" as this is my personal lesson for writing and life.

If you're not the arts and crafts type, you could try a reward system.  Tell yourself that if you get at least three tasks done per day you can have something you enjoy, like a bubble bath, a coffee with a friend or a night out at the movies.  If you cut corners and go without doing these tasks (or do them but do them half-heartedly) the only person who is going to know is you... but really isn't that the worst person to let down?

Make a list.  Make it on Monday and give yourself a time limit to get all the things on it done.  There is something satisfying about ticking things off of a list.

Ask someone you trust to tell you off if you go on Facebook too often!  Ask your mother or room-mate to take your phone or television away from you while you are working.  Lock anything that you find yourself using to procrastinate in a filing cabinet and give the key to your Dad when he goes to work so you can't have it until he comes home.  Do whatever you can.

Don't write long blog posts when you should be working!  :)  Less than 70 days, everyone.


You may also like to look at this post.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Diary of an Honours Student, Week Three

Well, my little tadpoles, would you believe that we are almost frogs?

We are.  There are only 75 days left until my thesis and those of my friends must be handed in.  (And on that topic, I would love to put a little countdown meme on the dashboard of this blog, showing how many days left... could anyone recommend a good one?  Would anyone be interested in that?)

Time seems to be going very fast.


This week was a tough one.  As some of you may know, I am newly single and trying to keep busy busy busy.  That's easier said than done!  (But that shouldn't be the case as I have 12000 words due soon... what have I been doing?!)  I do want to thank all my beautiful, wonderful and patient friends for putting up with (as one friend called me) Bitter Aunty Em.  In my defence, there had been alcohol involved and I was tres tired.

I have been doing a seminar through the University's Teaching and Learning Centre which is called Honours Paragraphs on Paper.  Basically the whole point of the four week course is to outline approaches to different parts of a thesis, such as the Lit Review, which was last week's topic, and then we have two blocks of time set aside in which we write like mad things to get some (you guessed it) paragraphs on paper.  The class is made up of students from multiple disciplines, so it's not as hand-holdy as you might think.  I do this class every Monday afternoon for a month; there are two more sessions left.  Will it help in the long run?  Who knows?  But my word count has certainly grown.

Also on Monday, but this time in the morning, I revisited my proper undergrad days by sitting in on a lecture with a friend.  (Don't worry, I asked the teacher if it was okay.  I'm not even badass enough to crash a lecture without permission.)  I didn't actually go to do the lecture though, I just wanted the company.  Instead, I used the time to handwrite some of the short story that I am supposed to be turning a full draft of in on Friday (Eek!)  Something that the teacher said DID spark my attention though, so thanks Brett for a new angle on my research!

Wednesday was the worst day ever.  Here's a tip for you: going through a shit time?  Don't dress and act like it.  Fake it til you make it, honey.  Tracksuit pants and oily hair do not a happy girl make.  Especially not if, after yoga, sweaty and sore, you traipse the miles and miles back to your car only to discover that your steering wheel has locked itself up and you can't make the key turn in the ignition.  (Another tip: if this happens to you, try taking your car all the way out of park and back again, then jiggle the wheel a bit, THEN try the key.  Thanks Dad.)  That afternoon was pretty much a write off, but as it was Julia Child's 100th birthday, I watched Julie and Julia until I felt better, then studied to my little heart's content.

It was my last week of work at one of my jobs this week too; if it seems like I didn't do much work, it's because I was there a lot.  But now, Honours is my full time job!  Aside from blogging, of course.  I did manage to write about 600 words on the theory part of the thesis this Saturday, and I am confident about the progress I will make in the next few weeks.

Wish me luck, tadpoles!


This week I have been loving:

* writtenkitten.net
* Muesli
* Game of Thrones
* Audrey Hepburn
* Owl Eyes
* This Maroon 5 song:





Also, don't forget to check out the COMET parody issue, over at the webpage right now!  Featuring my story Surivor: Honours Island!

Elimy

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Diary of An Honours Student, Week Two

Everywhere, students making goals.  Or in some cases, perhaps not. It must have seemed like such a good idea, this blackboard, but give young adults chalk and a space to write and inevitably someone's going to make a dirty joke.  I keep wondering, what would my answer to this question be?  I don't know...

Before I graduate I want to have written a thesis and a story that I am proud of, and that I love.

Still doing my Yoga.  Standing poses this week, my body was soooooore after.

Kait and I headed to Jean Pierre Sancho (okay so some of these are from Week One...) and had tasty treats for lunch to celebrate the beginning of a new semester.  This tart was superb!


The view from the Heath Ledger Theatre, before a performance of Signs of Life. My mother is quite taken with photographing pretty views lately!

Delicious, delicious strawberries.  I feel better when I eat healthy snacks while I study!

But then again, sometimes you have to take your brother to school and you end up at work an hour early... and only a nice stack of hot cakes will do!  The coffee was rubbish though!

A bath bomb aesthetic that was inspired by Essie Button.

Manicure by Monique at Lisa Corrie Hair and Beauty.

After a heartbreaking day...  morning still came...





And if you were wondering, yes my thesis is going well!

Monday, 6 August 2012

When to Throw in the Literary Towel



One of my favourite writers tells a hilarious story about forcing himself to finish reading a novel by one of Australia's late great authors.  He managed to wince his way through to the end, and then promptly raced outside to hurl the tome as far as he could down the length of his back yard.  (You can read the story in his words plus some more interesting things about him and his work here.)

The experience was a lesson in exercising the right NOT to have to waste time on books that don't grab you.  As much as I am loathe to use this now-popular bastardization of the English language, this was the YOLO (You only live once) principle in action.  Life is too short for bad books.

So how do you know when it's time to give in and re-shelf or even re-gift that book you've been battling?

1.  If your bookmark hasn't moved in more than a month, it's time to stop reading.

2.  If you can't remember what happened, it's time to stop reading.

3.  If reading it leaves you physically and emotionally exhausted/ cranky/ borderline psychopathic, it was probably time to stop reading a while ago.

4.  If reading makes you need to go to sleep, it's time to stop reading.  Unless you're having trouble sleeping, in which case it might be handy to keep the book on hand for nights when your brain has trouble shutting down.

5. If doing the dishes/ your laundry/ your homework suddenly seems very appealing by comparison, it's time to stop reading.

6.  If you are able to tell me what has been going on on Neighbours, Home and Away, The Shire or Being Lara Bingle lately, then it's time to stop pretending you've been reading.

7.  If the book is currently being used as a cup holder, a leaning block for painting your nails, a paper weight or toilet paper, it's time to stop reading.

8.  If you find yourself drifting off into thought while you're reading, only to emerge chapters later to realise that you just relived the last trip to the dentist you had in excruciating detail, it's time to donate that book to someone less interesting than yourself.

9.  If the book doesn't inspire you/ make you think about the world in a new way/ teach you something/ know about basic grammar and spelling rules/ feature characters who are realistic and likeable or at least admirable in their unlikableness then it's probably not a good book and you should only continue reading it if you want to use it as a learning exercise in what not to do.

10.  If you are tempted, like the author I mentioned, to physically damage the book, stop.  It's never worth it.

Remember: the book you can't finish now might be the book you devour and love at a later date when the time is right.  When I first read Wuthering Heights I couldn't even tell you what was going on.  It's now one of my all-time favourites.

As for right now, I'll be returning my copy of Ulysses to its spot on the shelf until next Bloomsday.

What have you tried to read lately that you just couldn't finish?


On another completely unrelated note, at work on Sunday, I overheard a mother talking to her daughter.  The daughter wanted to know what "that book up there" was about, the book in question being 50 Shades of Grey.  The mother explained that it was about a relationship between a man and a woman but it wasn't a very good book.  "Why not?" asked the girl.  The mother, trying to be diplomatic, answered that she didn't believe or want to believe that anyone would let someone be that mean to them as the relationship in the book was not a good one.  I thought this was a lovely, concise recap of what irks me about that book and I commend the lady for giving it.  

Monday, 30 July 2012

Diary of an Honours Student, Week One (Second Semester Edition!)

Semester Two has come too soon.  A fortnight ago when I realised that some of my friends who go to Curtin University had already gone back, I couldn't believe it.  Weren't they only on holidays for only three weeks or something?!  Murdoch, on the other hand, has been out of session since May.  That's two months of me being left to my own devices.  (You too if you're a Murdoch student.)

Let's take a moment to appreciate that a lot can happen in two months.  I know personally that I've changed, grown etc.  And now it's time to get down to business, and finish my thesis.





I know that this kind of business time and the kind of business time I mean are separate, but Flight of the Concords make me laugh, and what I'm about to follow up with isn't so funny.

My honours thesis is due on Friday the 9th of November, 2012. And I'm not 100% sure what its central question is at the moment!

That, however is my concern and I am just going to have to knuckle down and figure it out.  The process of refocussing begins with a commitment to discipline: I intend to spend at least two days a week working on campus this semester.  I began this pledge today, when I went in at around 9.30 and astonishingly found myself a functional computer.

If you've ever tried to get a computer in the Murdoch library, you'll know that it's nigh on impossible.  Any and all of the free computers will either be a) broken, b) actually 'reserved' for someone who's gone to the loo and thinks that leaving their bag with their valuables and their assignment up on the screen as security is a good idea or c) not actually connected to a CPU.  The occupied computers will be being used by a few serious students writing scarily bulky amounts of text and about twenty to fifty undergrads who are using their between-class time to catch up on their Facebooking.  God forbid their friend Kate (everyone's got a friend Kate, you know it's true) should update her status without them knowing about it.

Today was no different, but being week one, the common filled up a lot less quickly.  Good thing too, as I took a slight detour to the shops this morning for spot cream!  After some trial and error, I found myself at a functioning machine and managed to do an hour and a half's worth of work.  (The morning's amusement was provided by the string of first years who tried to use the dead machine diagonal from mine, each discovering the same thing: that the machine was a husk.  I eventually took pity on one girl and gave her my machine when I left.)  My conclusions?  Connecting to the University's internet can be a pain in the ass for the uninitiated such as moi but all in all, it's better to bring a laptop.

Seriously, folks, do a good deed for the day.  If you're using a computer in a library, don't procrastinate.  You're not just doing yourself a favour.  Get your work done, finish in a timely manner, and let someone else have a go.  University computers are not just Facebook machines.  That's what your phone is for!


That's pretty much all I have to say in this post, other than I hope that you are all doing well in your studies or whatever adventure you're taking.  I'll be back with more book reviews and make up stuff soon!

E