Reading Wrap Up // January

Look at all these books, guys! Look at them! Count them- there are 13 but I forgot one when I took the photo. I read fourteen books in January! That's nearly a whole quarter of my yearly target. Woohoo! 
Pile of books reading round up

I've written that title twice now and both times I've written 'on love and death'. You can take the girl out of the emo... Thankfully I do remember this book! I wrote a little about Nietzsche in my undergraduate dissertation but this was the first text of his I've actually read. I'm good at winging it! Aphorisms on Love and Hate- not death- is a collection of observations on a variety of topics. This makes the book super easy to read and some of the quotes are pretty relatable, even 150 years on. They're like little tweets from beyond the grave. The majority of them are quite wordy though and I found myself losing focus. It's definitely more of a book to dip into, rather than read all the way through.

My rating: 49% (Find out how I rate books here)

Buy Aphorisms on Love and Hate here


I bought this in London as a joke present for Rich, then read it on the train home because I forgot to take a book. (I also once bought my brother size 6 Converse then asked him to pass them onto me when he outgrew them. I'm the queen of gifting presents that benefit me). Five on Brexit Island is, obviously, a parody Famous Five book which sees the group split over whether George's own private island should remain part of the UK or not. Is this island part of the original Famous Five books? It seems pretty far-fetched that a child should an actual island. Anyway, I found the book a little dry. There were a couple of moments that warranted a little smirk but otherwise it felt like the author was trying to cram in as many satirical references as possible. The concept is great though and the cover's cute!

My rating: 59%

Buy Five on Brexit Island here


Before I started this blog, I had a short-lived blog that was all about vintage clothes. I went through a phase around 2009/2010 of being really into vintage fashion and obsessively bought books about the subject matter. This was one of them, but I never got round to reading it. The cover is super pretty- hardback and covered in lilac fabric with pink embossed lettering, although unfortunately it has a big ol' water stain on the front which kind of ruins the effect. The Little Dictionary of Fashion was written by Christian Dior as an A-Z of fashion, with his thoughts on everything from accents to zest, via more conventional fashion language such as blouses, neutral shades and veils. Having been written in 1954, a lot of the advice is pretty outdated for modern readers but some of it still stands for those who like a particularly sophisticated style. Besides, it looks gorgeous and it's got lovely little illustrations inside.

My rating: 59%

Buy The Little Dictionary of Fashion here


Man, Goosebumps were great, right? I had loads of the books but this is the only one still in my possession. It's fitting though, as it was the first one I bought. My childhood friend Kayleigh had it and I was super jealous so completely copied her like a creep, buying my own edition. It's amazing how much I remember of the story- Samantha is bullied by the most popular girl in the school but when a mysterious woman offers her three wishes, she sets out to change that. Of course it all goes horribly wrong. It's fairly engaging with a simple, clearly structured plot, although there's nothing particularly outstanding about it. Unlike other Goosebumps books, there's no scary element, just more of a mystic one.

My rating: 60%

Buy Be Careful What You Wish For here


Honestly? I don't even remember reading this. I couldn't tell you what it was about or what I thought. I gave it 61% though so I must have vaguely enjoyed it. Maybe it's not a great idea to read 15 books in one month.

My rating: 61%

Buy The Meek One here and maybe tell me what it's like


This was one of the many books I accidentally stole from my sixth form and it's complete with my decade-old scribbles in the margin. I didn't remember much (anything) about the play at all and, I have to be honest, I don't remember a lot just a few weeks after finishing it again. Maybe that's because I read it in one sitting while my fingers went numb sitting in a cold crematorium car park (don't ask) but whatever the reason, it's not particularly memorable for me. I did enjoy reading it at the time, and there was a definite feeling of impending dread which was powerful, but in retrospect I may have overmarked it.

My rating: 64%

Buy Journey's End here


I popped this book on my Amazon wishlist because it sounded right up my street, and Rich bought it for Christmas. I tend to like plots that just meander along following a life without a particularly storyline and that's exactly what this is. Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life follows, as you might imagine, the entire life of Andreas, who lives in the Austrian Alps (I promise this wasn't a factor when I put it on my wishlist). Unlike other similar books- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Stoner, for example- this is incredibly short. The whole life of Andreas is compacted into just over 100 pages but it doesn't feel like anything is missing. The one thing I wasn't a fan of was that there are no chapters so it's one continuous thread. I completely understand the artistic decision here but practically, it doesn't work for me. It is a beautiful story though... and the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

My rating: 65%

Buy A Whole Life here


When I was doing my teacher training, we were warned against using Roald Dahl as his books are overused in the classroom. There's a reason though, right? The Witches was one of my favourites so it was high time I gave it another read. The book never terrified me, although that may be because I've never seen the film so I was spared the graphic visual details! Dahl's writing is so amazing- I love that he never shied away from gruesome details. From my experience teaching, kids absolutely love anything that's a big disgusting and The Witches gets it just right.

My rating: 66%

Buy The Witches here


This autobiography of Grayson Perry is written by his therapist, in first person, based on recorded interviews, and follows his life from childhood up to starting out in the art world. It's very honest and frank, especially when it comes to discussing cross dressing and Grayson Perry's alter ego, Claire. The tone is so engaging that it's very easy to read with none of the pompousness or condescension that comes with some artist's books. Unfortunately, in the edition I had, I did notice some basic grammar and spelling errors that should have been picked up in the editing process, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book at all.

My rating: 69%

Buy Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl here


I've been meaning to read this book for a good year now and finally got round to it! It was fantastic! Keith Simpson was the Home Office pathologist and worked on a huge number of famous cases between the 1930s and 1970s. Forty Years of Murder is an autobiography centred around some of the most famous cases, such as the Acid Bath Murders, John Christie, and The Krays. Despite the grizzly subject matter, the whole book is kept light-hearted and it's filled with amusing anecdotes, as well as genuinely fascinating information about how cases were solved- not just murders but the likes of unidentified bodies and accidental deaths too. I've already recommended it to people who are into true crime. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My rating: 74%

Buy Forty Years of Murder here


This book has been on my Amazon wishlist forever, but now that I'm doing a module in Death and Visual Culture, I kind of had to buy it for uni. I mean, I didn't have to, but that's the excuse I'm using! Beyond the Dark Veil, at its most simple, is a book filled with beautiful examples of Victorian postmortem photography. The photos have been reproduced wonderfully, with an incredible amount of detail so you can really study them. They're categorised into groups, such as family and adults. There's even a section on pets, featuring a little tiny marble tomb that was made for a pet bird! As well as the photos, there are a handful of essays about the topic. Most are pretty straightforward but the first one is quite academic so beware of that. As well as being a gorgeously presented book inside, the cover is just stunning. It's hardback but gives the impression of being a leather photo album, with gold embossing. I absolutely loved it and fully recommend it if you're interested in death culture.

My rating: 74%

Buy Beyond the Dark Veil here 


I've been meaning to reread Harry Potter for several years, so I made it my top goal of 2017. Now I'm finally doing it, managing to squeeze in the first three before the end of January. We all know the story so I won't repeat it here but it's just a lovely, comforting read. I picked up this edition in a charity shop because I lost my original, and it has the loveliest message written inside, saying something along the lines of 'I hope this reminds you that you can find magic in life'. It makes me sad that the book ended up in a charity shop, but I'm glad I could give it a home.

My rating: 77%

Buy the Harry Potter boxset here


In terms of story writing, plot and all the rest of it, there's very little difference between the first two books for me. I think I prefer the first one simply because it's the original, but the pace of Chamber of Secrets is a bit better so they even out. For this reason, I've given them exactly the same rating.

My rating: 77%

Buy the Harry Potter boxset here


When I got into Harry Potter, only the first three books had been released, and I read them on a continual loop. Prisoner of Azkaban was my favourite because it was a little darker, so it's always held a soft spot in my heart. Rereading it, I can clearly see that it's much better than the first two for me. Yes, it's darker, but it's also very fast-paced, filled with suspense and I still remember how I felt when all the plot twists were revealed at the end. Plus, I have a real affection for Sirius and Lupin. They were 100% a couple and I won't listen to anybody who says otherwise. Not only that, but I have the prettiest cover in the world! I've lost my original but Rich bought me this pretty box set a while ago. I've been avoiding reading it but I had to break out this one and I'm glad I did, because it's too pretty to keep hidden away!

My rating: 83%

Buy this edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban here

Well that post took me approximately a million years. My fingers are killing me now! Time to go and round up all the books for photos. This will take a while! 

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  1. You've read so many books! My January wasn't quite as successful! x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness x

  2. Wow, you read so many books you put me to shame! I thought I'd done well with 5...haha! You read some great books though; The Witches, Goosebumps (man, I loved Goosebumps)! Forty Years of Murder sounds interesting - I think I'll check that one out, then pass it on to my mum who also loves true crime anything. x x


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