Like I said in my new years resolutions post – you can find it here – I’m pretty bad at keeping on track. I thought I might have an easier time staying on the straight and narrow if I checked in with myself occasionally to see how things are going. This probably isn’t going to be a monthly thing, but I’ll try to check in regularly and see if it helps. Feel free to use the comments as your own checking in page! How are you getting along? Have you broken any resolutions? Changed any? Are you smashing through them like the gods/goddesses you are? Let’s chat in the comments, and spur each other on!
So this blog has been Secrets of the Student Life since its conception. And that name fit for a while. It fit when I was a broke student trying to make sense of the world. But now I’m a broke graduate trying to make sense of the world. A broke professional. A woman with a job that I go to every week, Monday to Friday. And, well, Secrets of the Student Life just doesn’t really fit anymore, does it? Because I’m not living the student life anymore.
SO. I’ve decided to change the name of the blog. I thought about for a while, what I want to convey with the name. Names are important. Names are cool and fun and I love them. So who do I want to be in this blog? Who do I want you to see? I settled on Blank Pages Vivid Dreams. I rather like the sound and the flow of it, it lilts nicely and when I say it the name rolls off my tongue. And it really embodies my life. I have vivid dreams both in and out of sleep, and blank pages are the basis of my life. They are the canvas on which I spill my words, the foundations of my life and world. And they go together nicely, don’t they? Pages and dreams. Who doesn’t talk about the most interesting dreams they have? I’ve had many weird and wacky ideas come to me in dreams, and it’s always a rush to write them down when I awake before they skitter off into the ether never to return.
I’m not really changing anything else. I’m still writing about the same things, and the URL will stay the same until I’ve figured out how to change it (or have the money to!). I’ve just changed the name on the front of the blog to better reflect me. And I’m pretty happy with it for now.
So you guys know that I’ve lived in Edinburgh for going on 4 years now. In a city as big and diverse as this, there’s so many cool independent places to go and eat. Last week I had brunch at the Treehouse Cafe on Leven Street, Edinburgh. It’s up next to Bruntsfield Links, and it does REALLY GOOD PANCAKES.
My Goodreads profile is always a long way behind my actual reading. I like my short Goodreads reviews to compliment my more in depth reviews here on my blog, which means I tend to write them at the same time. But…I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty useless at keeping up. I even have a column on my reading spreadsheet reminding me to write reviews, but I still manage to fall behind. It’s just not that easy to write a long, detailed review when life gets in the way, and that means I don’t update my Goodreads either. I’ve been having some struggles recently (and not so recently) that have thrown me way off base, and I’m struggling to know what to do next. I still read but my reading is marred by reality’s ugly head, and having the time and mental energy to review has seemed impossible. While I can think all to well about what I want to say, when it comes down to actually getting it done and dusted I seem stuck. And that blows. A lot.
Just today I moved 6 books from my current list to my read list. I still haven’t reviewed them, but my head seems clearer today than it has in a long time so maybe I can blast some out and get back on track. Just putting a rating and “review to follow” on my books has allowed me to shift them off the current list, and it means I’m catching up to my Goodreads target again. Now I just need to start writing before I actually forget what I thought of the books. For this very reason, I keep rough notes on my phone as I read, so that I can build on them more, but still, it can be hard to remember weeks later what you planned on saying.
We all have our ups and downs, and for the most part reading helps me through mine. I like to review my books so that, later on, I can look back and remember why I enjoyed it (or didn’t), so that I can see whether it’s worth it to reread. It would be nice if my reviews introduced people to books they’d never read too, though reading is so subjective and I always think that it’s better to read and form your own opinion on a book instead of avoiding it because others didn’t like it (or worse, feeling as though you have to enjoy it just because everyone else thinks it’s the best book in the world). Most of the time, writing a review is just part of the reading process to me. It helps me slow down and consider what I’ve just read, rather than running from one book to the next without breath, without remembering what I’ve read or how it made me feel. In these times though, when life itself seems such a chore, reviewing can seem almost impossible. I’m trying though. I hope it picks up. I hope I can get some done before the next wave hits. And maybe this time I won’t fall so far behind.
This review may contain mild spoilers but will not talk in detail about any important plot points. I bought this book second hand from a used book sale sometime last year and just got around to reading it. The book is about a girl called Emma, who is the last person to see her childhood best friend, Abby, before Abby goes missing. The book is centred around Emma trying to find out what happened to Abby while also trying not to let the unsavoury circumstances in her past (that led to her “abandoning” Abby and moving to a different school) bleed through into her present. Check out the Goodreads page here.
Every year since I started university I come home for Christmas but this year was special because I got to come back for a whole month!! A month of free food, no exams or uni work and constant DOGS! Utter bliss. I managed to see so many friends (and in fact a friend from Edinburgh came to spend a few days with me and my folks over Christmas which was nice) and I bought some books. In the sales. Because I have very little self control (read literally none whatsoever). I only bought 6 though! So maybe I’m getting better in my ripe old age?
(All book cover images were taken from google because my camera was being mean to me.)
2016 has been a trying year. Much has happened in my personal life (and in the wider world) and sadly the majority of it has been bad. It’s hard to carry on with the things you love when you can think of nothing other than the bad stuff going on (or it’s hard for me anyway). Unfortunately I didn’t read much in 2016 and, even worse, I didn’t track any of my reading so I don’t really know what I did and whether I read what I wanted to. 2017, hopefully, will be different. And so, with this in mind, I made some goals for the coming year. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with them! Here’s to next year, hopefully it’s better than last year.
Goal #1 – Listen to at least 6 audio books.
I’ve had an audible account for a while now and I’m racking up the audio books, but I haven’t actually listened to any for a while. I used to listen to them at the gym but then I discovered some amazing podcasts and they pretty much took over my life. I’d like to get back into listening to audio books, and hopefully one every two months will be a more than achievable goal.
Goal #2 – Keep up with reviews.
Reviews aren’t just fun for me, they’re actually pretty helpful. I like to read but unless I become obsessed with a book it can be hard for me to remember everything that happens and what I like and dislike. If I write it all down in a review I can look back on it in the future and know what I did and did not enjoy. I also know that reading reviews can be helpful for others when they’re deciding whether to pick up a book and I love being able to guide people into finding books they love. Hopefully I’ll be doing far more reviews this coming year so watch out for them!
Goal #3 – Start a spreadsheet to track my reading and read a wider variety.
Like I said before, I didn’t track my reading at all this past year and so I really have no idea what I read. In 2017 I may go a tiiiiiny bit overboard in the opposite direction – I’ve created a huge spreadsheet to document my reading. It has around 26 columns from title, author and date published all the way through to various forms of representation. I’m tracking a lot. It may end up being too much, and maybe half my columns will lie unused for most of the year, but I think it’s important to me to try and get all of this information down. It also ties in to the goal of wider reading. I want to read a wider variety of authors and characters (not just straight white teens written by straight white adults), I want to read more genres and get out of my comfort zone, and I really want to read more non fiction. Hopefully by charting all of this information I can really see whether I’m being more diverse and, if not, I can change things up so that I am.
Goal #4 – Participate in the POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge AND the Book Riot 2017 Read Harder Challenge.
I’ve never really done a reading challenge like this before, but I figure it may help me expand my reading a bit (and so ties in nicely with my previous goal). I probably won’t be able to read a separate book for each part of each challenge, but hopefully I will for most of them! I’m aiming to complete the Book Riot challenge fully, and complete the main section of the POPSUGAR one. I may not get onto the “Advanced” section for POPSUGAR but here’s hoping! If you guys are interested in these challenges you can find the Book Riot challenge here and the POPSUGAR challenge here.
Goal #5 – Read (at some point this year) THESE specific books.
I usually don’t make lists of books I “HAVE” to read within a certain month/year because it puts pressure on to just “get it done” and then I might not enjoy them as much as I would usually. There are certain books I really want to read this year so I really hope I’ll find time for them at some point in 2017. They are:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – yes I still haven’t read it (not my fault, my copy was delivered to my parents home not my flat and this is the first time I’ve been back to my family home this year) but I need to. I. Need. To.
The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman – I started this book a while back but I never finished it and now I’ve forgotten most of it. Hopefully at some point this year I can restart it and actually finish it this time!
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Jodi came to do a talk about this book in Edinburgh and my flatmate and I went along. It was brilliant! She had great insight and her talk was beautiful. I can’t wait to get the chance to read this one.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser // Bad Food Britain by Joanna Blythman // The Shape We’re In by Sarah Boseley – these all fit under the same category really, but they’re all factual books about the food industry that I’m really interested to read and see how accurate and unbiased they are. I haven’t really read much about the food/diet industry but it’s a field that does interest me so hopefully I’ll get my teeth into these three this year.
Do you guys have any reading goals for 2017? Mine aren’t very specific (apart from the last one) but hopefully I’ll get back into reading for pleasure and interest this year and it’ll be a great year! Here’s hoping, eh?