This year I have a lot to read, which is exciting. I’m starting uni this week, which I’m sure will bring its own reading list; I’m working on a couple of new papers; I’m writing a novel; and of course there’s the usual TBR pile of things I’ve found that looked interesting.

Last week I read four books, although the first one is cheating a bit; it took me a full two weeks to read because it was a textbook, so although I finished it this week even I am not quite a fast enough reader to manage fitting in a textbook around working full-time.  (more…)

A while ago The Little Red Reviewer talked about how she prioritises her reading list. This might not sound like a huge deal, but if you have as many TBR (‘to be read’) categories as I do it quickly becomes a challenge.

I read books for several reasons: I want to; they’ve been sent to me for free in exchange for a review on the blog; a client is paying me to review them; I need to read them for an academic research project; I need to read them for some other reason; they’re in a foreign language and I’ve resolved to read more of those; I picked them up in a charity shop because they looked interesting; they represent gaps in my reading list… honestly I could probably go on. But you get the picture: there are lots of reasons why I read books, and therefore lots of TBR piles. (more…)

I’ll admit that I agreed to review this book because the protagonist is a swimmer, and I was hoping for some passages about how wonderful swimming is. Something like Jessica J. Lee’s Turning: A Swimming Memoir.

If you’re buying it for that reason, you’ll be disappointed at the lack of swimming-related content. But you won’t be disappointed by the book itself, which is excellent. It was so gripping that I got angry with myself for not being able to stay awake long enough to finish it in one go.  (more…)

A house burns to the ground while the family who live in it stand outside and watch. All bar two, that is: the absentees are the father, who is away at work, and the youngest daughter Izzy. Everyone knows it was Izzy who burned the house down, because that’s just like her: ever a wild child, impossible to control, Izzy has been the family’s unpredictable rebel practically since the day she was born.

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At the moment I’m writing a novel. The protagonist is a teenage boy. His name is Anthony and he’s dealing with a lot of things in his life, one of which is the underlying current of societal expectations of masculinity. This isn’t exactly a huge theme in the book, but I think it’s probably an important part of any boy’s upbringing, so I want to get it right. I decided therefore to read some things about what it’s like to grow up male.

I am not, and nor have I ever been, male. However I have always empathised with expectations of masculinity. I’ve been the breadwinner in every household I’ve lived in since a young age, and I’ve been surrounded by people and situations that made showing any kind of emotion discouraged. Growing up, I felt pressured to swallow whatever I might have been feeling and essentially ‘man up and get on with it.’ Despite not knowing what it’s like to be a boy, therefore, I have perhaps an above-average level of empathy for the challenges brought on by society’s expectations of masculinity.

Enter Webb’s autobiography.

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