Q&A September 2018: What you readin’? Part 3

It’s the third part of the Q&A posts! These fifty-five questions were found on this blog postwhich was actually found via a second blog post! So let’s answer another twelve!

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? 

Plenty! In fact, I’ll likely do a blog post on them all some day so this can be a teaser! A couple I’d recommend right now have to be:


  • Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers: a few years ago I was really very nervous about trying new things, and was so worried about what might go wrong. I tried reading plenty of self-help books but the few I had tried ended up being a little too ‘oh just think positively and your depression will disappear!’ – which seemed a mite unrealistic… Thankfully, Jeffers book is more about combating negative thoughts and fears of failure with ‘well, if you do mess up, you’ll handle it!’ It reminds you not everything you choose to do is ‘live or die,’ and that it’s okay to be scared or nervous of a new experience, just remember it’s a natural process, not something to listen to too much! It’s all about accepting your nervousness and attempting something anyway – and you often prove yourself wrong most of the time and show yourself you’re actually capable of a lot! It also goes into more serious topics, such as dealing with health issues or caring for someone else, and how you can handle some serious sh*t but still feel a little scared too. It’s all part and parcel of experience. A wonderful read with plenty of examples to relate to.
  • OCD Treatment Through Story-Telling by Dr. Allen H. Weg: now, this is more related to specifically OCD and intrusive thinking (something I used to really struggle with a few years ago and is, thankfully, in a sort of remission for me now!) – and this book was an absolute treat to find. I initially found it mentioned in a scientific article (it was about 2014 so I wish I could find which one it was…), but I bought it straight away and it was a huge help in my larger recovery! The book basically is written by a psychologist and expert in the field of OCD and Pure O (OCD with no outward compulsions) and he uses fun little stories, or metaphors/allegories, to depict OCD processes (often complicated when looked at scientifically in other writing), and uses these fun little metaphors to explain why we think the way we do. He uses examples from patients, his own experiences, and normalises the processes of OCD in an easy to understand way. The paper tiger metaphor is a very memorable one: the intrusive thought seems terrifying, disturbing, maybe dangerous, and makes us scared, just like our brain would want us to react around a real-life tiger – but it’s a paper tiger, it’s harmless, meaningless, and has no power, it’s just a thought. It’s a wonderful book and it really helps to show to the sufferer (it’s aimed at both patients and practitioners) how their thoughts, as horrible as they can be, are truly meaningless. (If you, too, are struggling with OCD, this book works perfectly alongside a course of CBT, but do speak to a health care professional to make sure you’re getting the treatment you need. Be kind to yourself, friend!)

26. Favourite cookbook?

As a kid I obsessed over Usborne’s Chocolates and Sweets to Make which is a very child-friendly and cute cookbook, but alas the recipes were all a little too intense for little me to attempt. One day! Recently, I bought my mother New York Cult Recipes by Marc Grossman – it’s a gorgeous book full of photos and illustrations of the Big Apple and some very cool regional foods to try! It also has good recommendations for the visitor too.


27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Oh gosh… I’ve read a lot of very strong true crime this year, with Tokyo Hostess by Clare Campbell a particularly memorable read. The Loves of the Artists by Jonathan Jones also inspired me to look more into the lives of the Renaissance artists and read more in particular about a favourite of mine: Caravaggio. Of course, both The Poisoners and I Will Maintain by new favourite old writer, Marjorie Bowen, both made me fall in love with historical fiction all the more, and thanks to her I’ve been reading a lot of history fiction and nonfiction! It’s a hard call, though… Will have to wait til the end of the year to read my annual look-back at the best works, I guess…!

28. Favourite reading snack?
Cup of coffee, first of all. And something not too messy to snack on… Ideally, grapes… Go full Caesar.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Hunger Games. I only read the first one – and I liked it! But the hype was unreal! It was just before the movie came out. Someone recommended me it knowing I’m a die-hard fan of the Battle Royale novel and movie, and I liked it plenty, but it didn’t grab me the way I felt it was supposed to? That said, I have seen all the films, but it just isn’t really for me. Oh! Gone Girl too. I read it before seeing the movie – and I don’t know, it just didn’t really work for me. I remember not liking the ending much. That said, Gillian Flynn, I LOVED Dark Places which I read sometime after – so I don’t dislike her works at all! Dark Places just worked more for me, I think. I think the movie and the concept of Gone Girl is growing on me, though! At the time, however, I don’t know, just didn’t grip me. Finished it, but felt like I had been expecting something different? Dark Places was wonderful though, can’t stress that enough. And both those authors are awesome anyway. Maybe I should revisit them sometime!

dark places

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t read reviews on books much at all… Irony? I tend to just read what I want to read, and I’ll write about it here if I feel I can say something…anything! But if I hear something is good, I’ll check it out! I usually go by friends’ recommendations, or I read around a subject or type of novel and find things I like that way. Follow an author’s canon maybe? I also follow up on author recommendations, particularly if someone has written a good book and they say they were inspired by someone else’s work, I’ll try and check that out too. As for reviews, I tend to read film reviews more…  Says the person who runs a book blog duh.  *I wanna save cinema tickets, you feel??*

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
Honestly, you’ll see me give a lot of 5/5’s here. Or 4/5’s or 3/5’s. I tend to quit a book if it’s about a 2 star so it never gets to review stage. I’m too busy and have too many better, more enjoyable books to fill my time with. With a movie review, which I used to do occasionally for a university paper, you can take two hours out of your day and watch something rubbish and tell people it’s crap, but with books, I don’t know, the process of experiencing them is so much more time-consuming. So you won’t see many bad reviews here. And when I started this blog a few years ago, I actually wanted to do away with scored reviews, and it’s something I kind of umm and aww about even now. I tend to include them just as a shorthand. I also don’t like to pan books – you’ll see above how I didn’t really want to say anything bad about the over-hyped books. They’re fine! If a book isn’t to my taste, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just not for me. And I have friends who read stuff I could not be bothered to myself – but I still like hearing why they love it, and why it works for them. As a writer, that’s valuable knowledge! I tend to keep my reviews positive. I don’t include every book I read – sometimes I can’t think of what to write about it, even if I loved it – and if a book really isn’t for me, I’ll quit before I can say anything about it. I’ll make vague allusions to really painful reading experiences, but I’ll probably keep it vague…

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Oh wow. I can only read in English – but if I could read Russian or Japanese, that would be wonderful. Same with French too. I try to read good translations when I need to but sadly I feel you miss out on a lot of nuance when it’s translated. Also there’s a lot of untranslated books out there, and some I definitely know are in Japanese that I would love to read. Sigh.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – so good, but I keep stopping and starting. It’s so dense. But so good. So memorable!! I keep thinking about it and putting off reading it. I’ll finish it soon, I promise! Ulysses by James Joyce is certainly up there (lots of things by Joyce, honestly), and many postmodern books… I remember reading V by Thomas Pynchon for one class and…wow. I struggle with that sort of experimental text. Incredibly interesting from a literary point of view, and in the history of literature it’s an interesting movement, but, boy, was it a struggle…

v thomas.jpg

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Ooh… Maybe War and Peace! It’s been staring me down at my bookshelf for months. I bought it early this year after my annual watch of the recent miniseries (so good), but I keep getting waylaid. Soon! I’ll read it soon!!

35. Favourite poet?
I loved studying Allen Ginsberg, especially his earlier works, when I was at university. Gregory Corso, as well as a number of other Beat Generation poets, are amongst my favourites. I have some poetry fans for friends, but poetry never really connected with me like prose has. Probably because I could never get the knack of writing poetry! I often say the Beat Generation’s foray into poetry is what I enjoy, but I also loved ‘The Waste Land’ by T. S. Eliot. I’m still looking for a favourite, though. One day!


36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Right now? I have about 10. I usually end up taking out up to the limit if I do a couple of trips at a time. I get through most of them! It’s a good job my library doesn’t also do film rentals because I would have even less space on the card, and an emptier pocket for those additional charges…

Hope you’re all enjoying Sci-Fi September and the odd review in between! See you next time, for part four!

<<<<Part Two                                                                                                                Part Four>>>>


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