Hi guys, the lovely, young woman sighed breathlessly on the screen to her viewers. I clicked of the little pop-up ad at the bottom of her video, concerned with the overt distress she opened her vlog with. The anxiety and stress in her voice were palpable. She looked somewhat ashamed, too embarrassed to even be in front of her camera. She fidgeted nervously with her hair before she lurched into a hurried explanation for her state: I’m really not happy. I only read fourteen books in the month of November which isn’t great, which means I’ll have to read 21 books in December to reach my end of year goal — I clicked off. This was precisely why I had left. It seemed as though nothing had changed.
The poetry world is a mess. Big time. Recently the PN Review published a stinging critique of the “rise of a cohort of young female poets”, those being Kate Tempest, Hollie McNish and Rupi Kaur, and described their work as “the open denigration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft”.
Back in 2014 the Hawking Index was born, and yes, you would be right in associating it with the great Stephen Hawking himself; but it’s not technically connected with him directly. Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg named it in Hawking’s honour, and albeit statistically flawed, it was invented with the intention of measuring how far people persist with reading certain books. Needless to say it didn’t really work as it could only gather data from very specific book files (i.e. e-book files which were read on a kindle and were compatible with the digital highlighting tool); but the initiative of the project was very bibliophilic in its intent, addressing the age-old controversial question every book lover challenges in their lifetime. To give-up on a book we are reading but not enjoying, or to persevere: that is the question.
Continue reading “Should you finish every book you start?”
“In every direction I turned I felt my soul being trampled upon, and as I had always suspected but was never able to confirm until now: my soul is composed entirely of books.”
Before this article begins I should stress an important fact about myself: I’m a passionate, enthusiastic, possibly madly-in-love bibliophile. Books are my absolute world, my whole universe. They take up all of my (non-working) thoughts of my day, they give me butterflies in my stomach that no lover has ever managed to compete with (although, my domestic partner has come exceptionally close, otherwise he wouldn’t be living with me and my beloved library.) My books are my family, they saved me. They got me through my darkest times, they never judged me, they comforted me, they held me and understood me when no one else did. But for the past year and a half I haven’t spoken about them much; they’ve been in my shadow, read in secrecy and left undiscussed. Why? Because my passion was locked away by myself; I became ashamed, secretive and silent. It was my response to being hurt, badly, and it’s only now I have the confidence to embrace my passion and who I am again fully and openly. I’m not hiding it away anymore; I’m wearing my bibliophilia like a tattoo on my lips. Nothing will not take this away from me, ever again.
Artwork by Arthur Rackham
Today has been nothing but bizarre to me, and I’m sure my experience is relatable to someone out there, albeit someone in a minute minority. It’s the 18th November and today I built a Christmas tree. Not one for myself of course, and when I say built I mean slot a ton of plastic branches into a plastic stand and then stuffed some decorations onto it half-heartedly. My partner comes from a normal family; one that enjoys Christmas, get excited for it even. They like it so much they do it twice; one real one with the family and the other fake with their neighbours. As you can judge from the date, this was all in preparation for fake Christmas of which I was kindly invited to attend. However, I warned my boyfriend well in advance, back when we started dating, that I was going to be pretty clueless when it came to this season, or rather, pretty contemptuous of it.