PhD-ish #1: Podcasts

It’s okay to listen/watch/read something just for the sheer pleasure of it – not everything has to have a purpose. Sometimes, though, you want something engaging and fun that also gives you a little something more. That’s what PhD-ish recommendations are all about – those things that have nothing to do with your specific topic area but might help open up your thinking in some way (but are also entertaining in their own right).

This week – podcasts! I’ve linked suggested episodes to the podcasts’ own websites, but they’re all available on the usual pod-catchers.

secret feminist agendaSecret Feminist Agenda

Hannah McGregor is a Canadian academic who is really smart, really funny, and enjoyable to listen to. This podcast is about “the insidious, nefarious, insurgent, and mundane ways we enact our feminism in our daily lives”, is often related to academia, and is just so damn enjoyable as well as thought-provoking and inspiring. It’s weekly, alternating between a longer interview episode and a shorter ‘mini-sode’ with Hannah.

Hannah is also looking at podcasts as a legit form of academic output, and even piloted having it peer reviewed. You can read the reviewers’ comments and her response here.

Suggested episode: It’s really hard to pick one but try Bringing Yourself To Work feat. Baharak Yousefi. It is centered around academia & universities, and is essentially about how bringing your whole self to work is a radical act.

cropped-WitchPlease_960pxWitch, Please

Speaking of Hannah McGregor, she also co-hosts Witch, Please with fellow literary academic Marcelle Kosman. This is an incredibly funny, smart, feminist, intersectional, and loving critique of Harry Potter. It’s best to start at the very first episode as they start from book 1 and move through books and films. As they find their podcasting feet they get better as they go, but, honestly, this is my favourite podcast ever. It’s hilarious but so smart and so thoughtful. I’m a better reader because of it.

Suggested episode: Just start at episode 1 and then go chronologically.

Ologies+ArtOlogies

Every week, Alie Ward interviews a different ‘ologist’ about their ‘ology’, from broad subjects like phonology (linguistics) to the more specific like rhinology (noses). Everything is fascinating if you look at it in enough depth, and I often find the topics I thought I would be least interested in are my favourites. And it’s just great to hear people getting the chance to really enthuse about their specialist area.

Suggested episode: Dendrology (trees) feat. J. Casey Clapp. Seriously, this guy is the most enthusiastic in the most lovely way about trees. I love him. Also hear the tale of the guy who accidentally chopped down the oldest tree in the world (always check in with local knowledge….)

invisibiliaInvisibilia

This is a science-based podcast, but is more narrative in tone (it’s NPR, so has a This American Life vibe). Invisibilia is about “the unseeable forces [that] control human behaviour and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions”. Although I’ve yet to listen to the latest season, everything I have heard has been incredibly interesting, and, given the story-telling style, easy to listen to even when it gets more complex.

Suggested episode: Entanglement. There might be better episodes but this is the one that immediately sprung to mind because I still think about the woman with Mirror Touch Synesthesia.

story colliderStory Collider

I’ve only listened to a couple of episodes of this but I think it’s a keeper. It’s basically personal stories in some way related to science and the week’s theme, recorded at a live event. As well as just being interesting, the ‘live’ element also adds an element of performance that the other podcasts don’t have. Sometimes it’s not just the story, but the way it’s told that makes it great – which is important to bear in mind when thinking about dissemination of your own research stories. And that you don’t have to be a scientist to have a science story to tell.

Suggested episode: Identity: Stories about figuring out who we are. The first part with Jason Rodriguez is a great story about learning to bring together his different cultural and professional identities.

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PhD #WeekInTheLife – June 2018

Reading/watching other PhD students’ week in the life posts & videos usually gives me a kick up the butt to get moving and/or makes me feel less like I’m the worst PhD student in the world and more like I’m feeling normal things. And it seemed like a good way to start changing this blog from being purely about books to more about research.

I’ll update this at the end of every day this week with what I’ve been doing & some more interesting photos when I’m at the museum. I don’t have much booked in at the beginning of this week (but work to do), and then I’m at the museum all day Thursday and Friday morning. I’m about 7 months into my PhD, and you can find out a little about my project here. (I’ll do a full post about what I’m doing soon).

Let’s see if the observation of a thing really changes that thing and I procrastinate less than usual just because I know I’m going to write about it…

CAC709BD-5F09-45D6-94DC-F4FD070E6230Monday

Today’s about catching up on a few emails, then getting stuck into some literature.

I’m coming towards the end of my realist review (hopefully!). I’ll write a post at some point about my experience of doing a realist review as compared to a standard systematic one, but the main thing to understand for today’s work is that it has less clearly defined boundaries around what to include, so it can be hard to know when enough is enough. Or at least that’s where my anxiety lies. At the moment I’m deciding whether to include an area of literature as a formal part of the review or as a discussion point. I think it will be a (key) discussion point, and something I think about for my evaluation, but I just want to read around a little more.

It’s actually really interesting how little there is about the dynamics of caring relationships in dementia, both for professional and family carers, and how those dynamics can have an impact on, or be a context for, how psychosocial or creative interventions work. There is some research there, but not enough. (I got some really useful signposting from a researcher here in Exeter and someone I met on training last week. I’m definitely getting better at asking for pointers when I’m stuck, instead of just trying to wade through treacle by myself.)

nopeSpeaking of wading through treacle, I’m really tired today, so haven’t been the most productive. My health shenanigans include severe fatigue, and I haven’t been resting properly the past few weeks so it’s catching up with me a bit. I actually napped during the day at the weekend (which as a person who can’t sleep if there’s any light/noise is basically unheard of) after a week of headaches, nausea, etc, so I know the warning flags are out. I’ll be fine; I just need to pull back a little & reconfigure how I’m living before the warning flags become a proper flare-up that takes a lot longer to crawl back from. There’s always that tension, for everyone, between what you want to do and what your body can do, it’s just that my Threshold of Nope is much lower than other people’s. Early finish, then trash TV & a pizza for me tonight!

E6405979-684E-4801-B7FA-CE2B86C7877ATuesday

Another office day today, but thankfully not feeling quite so dead so actually getting some stuff done!

Got to the office at 9.45am, pratted about on Twitter a bit, then got started about 10ish. I’m definitely not including caring relationship dynamics as a formal part of the review, so, even though there’s more to read, I’m putting it to one side until I write the discussion.

This morning I refined and added to my programme theories (the theories I’ve developed as a result of the review, and will test in my evaluation). I’m not 100% happy with them but they’re almost there. Then I skimmed back through my research diary to check for notes I’d made myself to add into the theories or the discussion. (If you don’t keep a research diary I really recommend it – it means I don’t forget random thoughts or my thinking process, which is helpful when I can’t remember why I decided to do something a particular way).

Then it was all about starting the results section. Some of that was just figuring out how to write it by reading a few review papers & example PhDs – I’ve never done a realist review before & it’s a little less structured than I’m used to. But at 2K words today I’m around a third done with the results section draft! (Thank you past me for the clear notes on where the specific evidence for each theory is, except that one section where you didn’t)

In between those things I did small admin jobs – a few emails for the conference I’m helping to organise, and for the museum group on Thursday. (Also Twitter scrolling & a game of HQ Trivia).

A much better PhD day! (PhDay?). My body really needed to leave by 4pm, but I had to wait for someone, so left the office at 5, ready for another evening of pyjamas & trash to stay on top of health shenanigans.

4F356132-E366-4CDD-BB7D-D44946DD15E3Wednesday

Final office day of the week. Got in about 10am and did some admin/emails until supervision with my main supervisor at 11am.

The rest of the day was writing the results section, interspersed with a few emails and Twitter scrolling. Finally have a draft of this bit (and a shiny 6K words of the thesis done). I mean, it’s rubbish, some of the writing is truly awful & it needs some structural tweaking, but it’s so much easier to write from something than a blank page. Many of my shiny new words will be deleted and replaced, but it’s a start.

I’m at the museum tomorrow which is a bit more exciting, but I’m very aware I have no academic extra-curriculars this week, like teaching or exciting meetings, so I’m “not busy”. I also have this anxiety, writing what I’m doing here, that I’m also not doing enough work & it shows. Everyone in academia is extremely qualified, and there’s a pressure to be doing more, getting involved more, to show your worth to future employers and make sure you are extra-ordinarily qualified to have a chance. I hate competitive busyness and I generally do my best not to play, but, even so, I’ve clearly still internalised that pressure. Not just to play, but to show here how much I do, how well I do, how effortlessly I do. Having been a “disabled scrounger”, I know it’s not an issue just in academia, but in our culture more widely, but even knowing all that it’s hard to resist that internalised link between productivity and self-worth, and the anxiety that comes with that, particularly when you have additional limitations which mean you couldn’t keep up even if you wanted to. (Despite this ramble/rant, I am in a good mood today).

Had my dinner at my desk and left at 5.30 for a book club in town tonight – “Women & Power” by Mary Beard.

one cameraThursday

Thursday is museum day! I always work from the museum offices on a Thursday, either working on the dementia programme or just doing my usual PhD stuff but from there. Even though it’s not all directly relevant, it means I get to know the museum & the staff (& vice versa), understand these programmes better, how all the behind-the-scenes organising works, and just work in a non-academic environment. I love working on the programme itself. I volunteer at the sessions, so get to hang out & chat art with people and see the actual impact of the PhD with actual humans.  It’s so great.

The dementia sessions here run once a month, and are either object handling, art-making, or a tour of one of the exhibitions. People with dementia generally attend with a carer, spouse, or friend, and the way the sessions are facilitated mean they’re not based on reminiscence or memory, and everyone can enjoy and contribute on an equal basis. It’s about an ‘in the moment’ wellbeing and enjoyment, as well as intellectual stimulation and meeting other people.

lots cameraToday was a photography session, based around portraiture. After the usual tea & biscuits, we looked at old cameras (they’re such lovely objects), and at different examples of portraiture in photography art-books. We then went up to one of the museum galleries and had a quick look around a current exhibition of paintings about childhood, which mainly includes painted portraits of children. We talked a bit about the difference between a more typical “say cheese” photo we might have taken of others, and the various poses/framing/etc of people in the photos and paintings we looked at. Then, in pairs, people chose photos from the books, recreated the poses, and took photos using digital cameras. At the end of the session we had another cuppa and looked at everyone’s photos projected on the big screen. It was a fun session, and people really made it their own by changing up the poses and doing things like taking close-up pictures of hands. This is my favourite part of the PhD.

Back in the museum office, as part of helping to update their in-house evaluation of the programme, I inputted old (and today’s) evaluation forms, and worked on updating the registration forms. Next time I’ll start analysing past years’ data and finalising the new forms.

I left a little early to head back to the office as I had a follow-up webinar on the philosophical foundations of realist evaluation training I went on last month. Really helpful to talk through sticky issues of ontology, and especially being able to listen in on other people’s questions & answers. My head is full of nerding. That finished about 5.30pm, and I left the office at 6pm.

It’s been a good, thought-provoking, day.

A2A3B5D5-3BE2-41D2-90B8-DFD982314BB4Friday

Even though I’ve been at the museum a while, I hadn’t had an official induction, so this morning I joined a volunteer induction session.

When that finished at 1pm, I had a sunny lunch outside on the cathedral green, then headed to the office.

Following yesterday’s webinar, there are some conceptual things I want to tweak in my programme theories, and I want start my ethics form / evaluation planning (the data stuff I was doing yesterday is for the museum, not my PhD). But, I was really exhausted again and I knew I’d get frustrated with myself (like on Monday) if I tried to do something that required much concentration. So I spent the afternoon making notes so that I could still make progress today in a less taxing way and get into my thinking more quickly on Monday, and doing some admin like booking a hotel for a course next month. I also had a quick look through the prep tasks for a visual methods day I’m doing next week and holy hell the questions for discussion are so interesting. Ending the week feeling like I haven’t done nearly enough, but definitely happily motivated for the next.

Weekend

I don’t work on weekends. Inevitably, that will change at some point, but I’m trying to go as long as I can without any evening or weekend work. On Saturday I have a recovery day which will be pure pyjamas (with a little tweaking of my D&D character before a new game starts next week), and on Sunday I’m officiating a roller derby game as my other alter ego, Dame of Thrones.

Typical week?

I picked this week mostly at random, but it’s turned out fairly typical. What I’m working on changes, and I sometimes have other meetings/extra-curriculars, but otherwise this is it – some feeling like I make no progress, some feeling like I make good progress, some museum, some reading, some writing. I was way less productive this week than I could have been (and would have liked) if I’d been looking after myself better recently (the contrast between high & low fatigue days is massive). So I’m going to get back on track with that & then I should feel a little more consistent across the whole week (and get more done overall without feeling ill as an extra bonus).

I really like reading about what other people actually do, so give me shout if you do your own PhD-InTheLife!

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May reads 2018

by grand central.jpgBy Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart (novel)

Blurry. This book was just blurry for me. It’s like I could see that there was some beautiful writing, some raw and fully-felt emotion, but I couldn’t quite get hold of it. There were moments that I was in sync with it but then it just would slip away again. I was happy when I read it, which maybe isn’t the right headspace, but a book that’s essentially about raw emotion should be moving nonetheless. Maybe part of the point is how caught up in its own lyricism it is (as she is caught up in the emotion), but it just didn’t do it for me.

the lost thingThe Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (graphic novel)

I just love Shaun Tan’s work. I don’t like this as much as The Arrival or The Red Tree, because it doesn’t have that same darkness or depth to it, but it’s still good. You can read it as a simple story of a boy finding a place for a lost thing, or as a story about rushing through the day-to-day and not noticing anymore, and how we treat those things which are different. If you’ve never read Tan before, definitely start with The Arrival or The Red Tree, but then give this one a go too.

the empathy exams.jpgThe Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (non-fiction)

I’ve been meaning to read this for such a long time and I’m so glad I finally got round to it. Each essay deals with empathy and pain in different ways, and it’s more memoir-confessional in style (and it’s helpful to know that going in as most of the marketing I saw made it sound more like a pop science book). It’s incredibly thought-provoking, interesting, and sharply written. Even you don’t agree with everything she says or does I think you still get something from it. Highly recommended.

another day in the death of americaAnother Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge (non-fiction)

Younge took a random 24-hour period (Saturday 23rd November 2013) and wrote about every child and teen killed by gunfire (not including suicide) in America. There were ten. Each chapter discusses one child and what happened to them, but also who they were as people and what their lives were like. Each chapter takes aspects of their story to discuss a different aspect of gun crime or American culture. It’s incredibly empathic and powerful. It’s not about gun control; but it is about gun control. The worst and most damning thing about this book is that it could have been written about any day. Any day. If you read nothing else, read this book; these ten lives are representative of so many:

Jaiden Dixon
Kenneth Mills-Tucker
Stanley Taylor
Pedro Cortez
Tyler Dunn
Edwin Rajo
Samuel Brightmon
Tyshon Anderson
Gary Anderson
Gustin Hinnant

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April reads 2018

Another month where I didn’t read much. I think this is going to be a theme over the next three years of my PhD. But, I did read something, which is better than nothing.

a pair of filk stockingsA Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin (short stories)

I normally don’t like these very mini Penguin Classics because they’re just not long enough for me to get properly into them, but I really liked this. In particular, the title story (which comes at the end), is something I normally wouldn’t like but I loved. It’s basically just a kind of quiet joy in spending a day just for you, for what you want. It ends before she goes home, and so you never see the guilt that will probably come, or the questions about where that money went. It’s just joyful, and it’s great. If you ever need incentive to Treat Yo Self, just read this one story, it only takes 5/10 minutes and then you’ll be off to the theatre in no time.

the dumb houseThe Dumb House by John Burnside (novel)

Although the plot is completely different, this reminded me a lot of Lolita. The narrator of The Dumb House is also pretty horrifying and unreliable and trying to convince his audience that he is unquestionably in the right. The writing, although not quite as beautiful as Nabokov’s, is sharp and eloquent and the tone is perfect. The blurb is a little misleading, as it makes it sound as though it’s mostly about an experiment he conducts on his own children, which only happens in the final section. It’s more about him as a character and narrator. I chose this for a book club (before I’d read it), and I have a feeling some people are going to hate it, but there’s so much to discuss I think it’s going to be a good one. Sharply written, compelling, and horrifying – one of my favourites of the year so far.

bi the wayBi The Way by MJ Wallace (graphic novel, non-fiction)

This is a comic about MJ’s realisation that she’s bi, while in a long-term relationship with a man. The latter part of that sentence might not seem relevant, but it is – so many bi people struggle with their identity because of not feeling ‘queer enough’, and relationship status being conflated with sexuality. A lot of what she talks about is stuff I’ve felt myself, so it’s a very affirming kind of story. There’s also a bunch of stuff in there about being a good ally to bi people, or how to react to someone coming out, so it’s also a good book to quietly push into the hands of straight (or some LGBT) people who don’t quite get it. The back cover also has a list of excellent bi puns. I am always here for puns.

Photo 06-05-2018, 15 16 39

Currently reading: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart

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April screentime 2018

Annihilation_(film)Annihilation (2018) film, Netflix

I actually watched this in March & forgot. As I just had it on in the background (and was paying so little attention I somehow missed the scary bear-with-a-woman’s-pleas-for-help-as-a-voice), I gave it another go this month. I much preferred this to the book, which I hated. I feels like a film about renewal after terrible things happen – you are yourself but you are also changed. Both you and your world have been refracted. It’s a shame this wasn’t shown in cinemas, though I can see why they were confused about how to market it, because the visuals would look amazing on the big screen.

american-psycho-movie-poster-2000-1020188223American Psycho (2000) film, Netflix

Somehow, I’d never seen this? Christian Bale is so great as Patrick. I love an ambiguous ending, but I don’t think this *quite* pulls it off. It accidentally leans a little too far towards “and it was all a dream…”, when really I think it’s just trying to show us how unreliable Patrick Bateman is as a lens to see the world. I think he did kill some of those people (like the homeless man), but the rest is just a demonstration of his own narcissism.

take your pillsTake Your Pills (2018) documentary, Netflix

I accidentally watched this because I thought it would be Icarus, and it wasn’t that great. This is a documentary about the use of ADHD medication as a performance enhancing drug, mainly in America. It had potential, but just didn’t go into enough depth, is a bit all over the place, and often gives the impression these drugs aren’t good for anyone (when they can be for some people with ADHD). Give it a miss.

swiss army manSwiss Army Man (2016) film, Prime

The farting corpse movie! I don’t what I expected but this wasn’t what I expected, and is one of the few movies where I really didn’t see the ending coming. I don’t want to say too much about it because I think it’s better if you just let it unfold, but it’s weird, but also very sweet and moving and quite sad. It’s definitely worth a go if weird unexplained magical realism doesn’t annoy you.

Icarus_(2017_film)Icarus (2017) documentary, Netflix

This is the drugs documentary I meant to watch. Bryan Fogel starts to make a documentary about how doping happens in cycling, but stumbles upon a Russian state-sponsored drugs programme across all sports. Whilst it’s interesting and Rodchenkov is a fascinating and charismatic character to watch, the documentary itself is a bit clunky and could use some sharper editing. Maybe my expectations were a bit high because of the Oscar, but I thought it would be much tighter as a film.

parks and recParks and Rec (seasons 1-4) series, Prime

Yeah I had a bit of binge and am currently having to have a Parks & Rec break because too much. It was just okay at first but I got super into it from about season 2ish. I also found Leslie Knope a bit annoying in the beginning but now I full-on love her, as I love Ron’s little mischievous face. Aziz Ansari’s character Tom is a very tired trope of ‘it’s okay this man is very misogynistic because he’s an idiot, but we’ll also make his character sympathetic and inadvertently tell dudes with Tom’s opinions that they’re correct’. But apart from that I just love this show.

r kelly documentaryR Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes (2018) documentary, BBC iPlayer

This documentary makes it pretty clear that the people around R Kelly know he’s inappropriate and not a good guy, even though legally he’s not been found guilty (at the moment at least, I suspect not for long). If the girls had been white, there’s no question he would have been put in prison a long time ago. I knew he had a reputation for being creepy but I had no idea about the extent of it. I won’t be listening to his music anymore.

thor ragnarokThor: Ragnarok (2017) film, Prime

Petition for Taika Waititi to write and direct all the movies from now on. All of them. He has officially become my favourite New Zealander (a position held for a long time by ‘werewolves not swearwolves’ Rhys Darby). This film is so much fun, genuinely funny, and also features Jeff Goldblum. What more could you want. I’d had Marvel fatigue for a while but it’s made me want to dip back in and catch up (I did have a sneaky look at Infinity Wars spoilers, so I’m glad I’m waiting for the next one to watch both part 1 & 2 together).

 

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March screentime 2018

This month I discovered I can get a 6-month free trial of Amazon Prime, so that’s opened up a whole new world of procrastination…

The_RevenantThe Revenant (2015) film, Netflix

The cinematography is amazing, but apart from that I felt kind of meh about this. It’s too long and the pacing is off so it kept losing me. I just found I didn’t care about the continued torture of Leonardo DiCaprio and just enjoyed the scenery instead.

the push.jpgDerren Brown’s The Push TV special, Netflix

I don’t think I’ll be watching any more of these Derren Brown shows. He always aims to put people in extreme situations to push them towards huge personal growth, but there’s no way he can hit it every time. The people in this show genuinely believed they’d killed someone. It doesn’t matter that they actually didn’t. I’m sure he and the show put lots of support in place every time they do this sort of thing, but post-traumatic growth is a very difficult thing to engineer. Also, imagine trying to get this stuff through a university/NHS ethics committee.

brooklyn 99Brooklyn 99 (series 1-3) series, Netflix

This is my new obsession. It’s perfect easy-watch-but-good TV. I love Holt being weird and mischievous, and Charles being weird and yet so pure. I’m sad I’m already half-way through series 4. I love it so much.

I,_Daniel_BlakeI, Daniel Blake (2016) film, Prime

As someone who’s been in the middle of the DWP system before, it’s taken me a while to get to watching this because I knew it would be hard. I was very lucky in that I never had to deal with some of the difficulties and poverty that Dan and Katie do, but that hold music…The DWP hold music is enough to make me feel stressed and horrible. The only problem with this film is that I don’t think it will change the minds of people who support the current system. I don’t think some people understand that what’s in the film aren’t extreme examples, but very common ones, or that the characters aren’t exceptional ‘deserving poor’ compared to all the ‘scroungers’. But watch it anyway.

the big sickThe Big Sick (2017) film

I’m not a big romcom fan, but this was funny and enjoyable enough. I think I liked it more because I find Kumail Nanjiani so likeable, and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much with someone else as the lead.

the shape of waterThe Shape of Water (2017) film

I was a bit underwhelmed by this. I liked how it played with fairy tale, like a lot of del Toro’s films do, and it looked great, but the amount of hype (plus the Oscar) meant I was expecting something more from it.

what happened to mondayWhat Happened to Monday (2017) film, Netflix

Netflix is really great at original TV, really not so great at original films.  It has an interesting premise and a good cast, but it’s so badly written all the sisters blur into one (ironically), it’s predictable, and full of weird plot holes. Give it a miss.

train to busan.jpgTrain to Busan (2016) film, Prime

This a Korean zombie film that’s huge in Asia and about to be made into a VR game. Like a lot of horror films this is also social commentary, and it doesn’t do it subtly. The characters are quite trope-y so it’s very easy to quickly predict who will live and die by the end, but I actually didn’t care. Most of the characters have personality despite the tropes and it’s just an enjoyable zombie film. I must play the VR game.

wild-wild-country-250Wild, Wild Country (2018) documentary, Netflix

This is a really great documentary about the cult/religion (depending on your perspective) of Rajneesh in Oregon in the 1980s. It doesn’t tell you what to think, but you constantly switch back and forth between supporting the town and supporting the religion/cult (until they go too far and you support no one), and on how much you trust and support individual ex-members. It’s so good. If you like stuff about cults or crime, definitely watch this. And then make everyone you know watch it too because you’re going to want to talk about it (even if just to figure Sheela out).

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March reads 2018

With one notable exception February was a bit of write-off. I was too ill most of the time to do much of anything, including reading. It’s the first month in a very long time that I’ve read nothing (and watched nothing new), but, it happens. This time a couple of years ago, even last year, I never would have thought I’d be well enough to do a full-time PhD, so I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t always read as much as I used to.

pages for youPages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg (novel)

I really enjoyed this. Novels set on American university campuses are my weakness for some reason, and this is also a lesbian coming-of-age book in which neither gay character dies at the end (you’d be surprised how rare that is). It’s about the rush and passion of first love, and as a result both characters are a little thin as it’s more about the getting swept up in each other so I didn’t really mind. The chapters are short and choppy so it’s really easy and quick to read. Definitely recommend.

new worldNew World: An Anthology of Sci-fi and Fantasy edited by C. Spike Trotman (comics, fiction)

This is an anthology broadly about first contacts between civilisations. They’re all by different writers and artists, so, as is the way with collections, I liked some more than others. There weren’t many that really stuck with me afterwards, and I think I just wanted some of the ideas to be developed further.

women & powerWomen & Power by Mary Beard (non-fiction)

This short book is essentially two lectures that Mary Beard gave with a short preface and afterward. As a classicist, she refers to ancient Greece and Rome to understand today’s structures of power and women’s place in it. It’s partly about how “you can’t easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure”, and partly about how we need to alter what we understand as ‘having power’. As a short book, I wanted more, particularly on re-understanding the concept of power, but mostly I wish I’d seen her give these speeches. I wanted to underline so many sentences and I’ll definitely re-read this.

fun homeFun Home by Alison Bechdel (graphic novel, non-fiction)

I think this was one of the first graphic novels I read and so was interesting to go back to. I was re-reading it for a book club I’m facilitating, and I’m really interested to see what people new to the genre make of it. I didn’t get anything new from it on this read, but I think I appreciated the craft of it more – the way she circles back to stories with new information or perspective so you see the same panels in a new way.

the good peopleThe Good People by Hannah Kent (novel)

It took me a little while to get into this, I think because Kent has a tendency to put a little bit too much of her research into her writing, but I enjoyed it once I did. She’s really good at developing the sense of place so that you can really see and feel it, and she writes her characters in a way that you can empathise and understand them even if you don’t agree with them at all. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Burial Rites, and it was a little too long in places, but it was enjoyable enough for a bank holiday read.

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