The orange throw’s reappearing again! This is just a wee photo-filled update to share the things I got up to in January, both book-related and otherwise.
Firstly, and most excitingly, I went to Hogwarts! I got tickets to the Warner Bros Studio Tour for my birthday, and I went while everything was still dressed to look snowy and Christmassy. It was so incredibly amazing, I even shed a small tear! I would thoroughly recommend a visit, and I’d even recommend trying the butterbeer for the sake of experience (but bear in mind it’s disgusting). I treated myself to a few goodies while I was there, and this is what I got:
I do feel a tad naughty for buying a Dark Mark top, but it is quite pretty and fits really well. I got a commemorative butterbeer tankard, but the downside was that I had to drain the contents for ease of carrying it around in my pocket. It really did taste quite disgusting, and not at all how I imagined butterbeer to be. For some reason I always thought it would be warm and non-fizzy. Anyway, I have my own tankard now, so I can experiment with some nicer recipes. I also got an ENORMOUS Marauders’ Map mug, which is fab, although I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. It seems far too large for any kind of beverage (except perhaps a lot of wine), so I might even use it as a sweetie bowl. Think how much Haribo I could squeeze in it! I also got a lovely time-turner keyring with a working hourglass, and my mum included the souvenir guide in my present (although you shouldn’t look at it until the end of the tour in case of spoilers). It’s nice and glossy with lots of lovely pictures in it, and then the bookmarks were thrown in for free.
Secondly, and also quite excitingly, I’ve started another creative writing course. It’s only a mini eight week course, but I’m enjoying it so far. We’re taking it in turns to get feedback on our work and have to bring in a piece every other week, but I’m still going to try and produce something new every week even if it doesn’t get looked at because I think it’ll be just as useful hearing feedback on other people’s work. Having said that, I’m yet to write anything for this week and I need to email it to the teacher tomorrow (although it is fully planned out and started in my head, just not actually on paper). I’ve also booked a few three hour writing workshops in Bath during the literature festival at the start of March, which should be really fun and interesting (although I don’t really know what to expect).
I went to the cinema twice this month and saw The Theory of Everything, which was very emotional but brilliant and fabulously acted, and Into the Woods, which was HUGELY disappointing and actually really boring. I resented having to pay full price for such a disappointment, but I’m getting a Cineworld cinema card this weekend so I can see more films and maybe take a few more risks to see things that I wouldn’t normally see. I think it’s £16.49 a month for unlimited films (with a small charge for 3D, plus 10% off their extortionately priced snacks), so I’d only have to go twice a month to make it worthwhile really. My sister and I are planning to go every week though, time permitting, so I might end up featuring a few more films on here before too long.
Now, onto books. This month I decided on a very strict book-buying ban, which can only be broken by books that I need to buy for my bookclub reads. Instead I’ve started making an Amazon wish list and put all the books I want to get on there for potential birthday/christmas presents, although I’ve got a bit carried away and put around 75 books on there already. Since the start of January. Oops. I’ve also already failed at the ban as I purchased these (although in fairness they were already in the post by the time I’d decided on the ban):
It’s actually not as bad as it seems though, because I need to read the first Mary Poppins story for next month’s bookclub, although I’m going to try to read all of them (hence the lovely anthology, which I’ve wanted ever since I watched Saving Mr. Banks). I got the DVD of The Remains of the Day because we’re reading the book for this month’s bookclub, and we’re going to watch the film and do a comparison. Finally, I got the first two books in the Fairyland series for no other reason than because I wanted them, and because they’re so pretty, and I really fancied reading some new children’s books. I don’t regret it at all, because I’ve started the first one and it’s pretty wonderful.
So, in terms of reading progress, these are the books I’ve read this month:
It’s not very impressive really, as none of them are very long at all and The Woman in Black and Loitering With Intent are actually really quite short. Plus I was already halfway through The Woman in Black. I haven’t even finished The Remains of the Day yet, but I’m including it because I need to finish it in time for bookclub tomorrow so it will technically be finished in January. Also, even though 5 books technically puts me ahead if not on track for my Goodreads 50 book challenge, both The Remains of the Day and Havemercy are rereads, and therefore don’t count in my overall read-50-new-books-this-year challenge. I’ve only read two off the four books in the Havemercy/Volstovic cycle though, so I’m rereading the first two so I can read the later ones.
Those are the only books I’ve finished so far this month, although I’m also in the process of reading these books (although I haven’t made progress in all of them this month):
I think it’s fairly obvious that my resolution of cutting down the number of books I read at once is not going too well. Unfortunately it’s going to carry on not going well, because the majority of these books have one (if not several) sequels, so once I’ve finished them I’ll have to move on to reading these:
It looks like I’ll be reading several books and series for a while. (I know the Roald Dahl books aren’t sequels, but I am trying to work my way through the boxset, and still have several left to read from The Twits onwards). My aim for February is to finish some of the books I’m already reading and maybe try and get through some sequels too or finish a series, so I can gradually start cutting down on the number of books I’m reading at once. I also need to read at least the first story in the Mary Poppins collection, although I’d be thrilled if I had the chance to read them all next month. If by some kind of miracle I manage to get through all of these books (definitely not going to happen), then I have this on hand to help me choose my next read:
Yes, I’ve completely updated my TBR jar! I’ve been through it to take out all the books I’ve already read and add in my latest purchases, and as you can see it’s pretty damn full! I’ve only put my fiction books in there, but I might make a separate one for non-fiction books at some point, I haven’t quite decided. This should keep me busy for a while though, and I expect I’ll be relying heavily on this jar over the next year to try and dramatically cut down on the number of books I own but haven’t read yet.
So that’s my January wrap-up. As you can see, the majority of my reading resolutions (reading one book at a time, reading books I haven’t read before) are not going too well, but I’m hoping everything will improve next month. Once I’ve finished Shadow Magic and Birdsong, I think the rest of the sequels/series will be new reads for me (bar a few Roald Dahl’s). The vast majority of my upcoming reads are also on the chunky side, and I really like the chance to sink my teeth into longer, meatier books. I’m also trying to keep track of my page counts this year, as there are a lot of big books that I want to read which may affect my chances of being able to read 50 books but could easily match 50 books in terms of page counts. So far, my finished books equate to 1,579 pages, but hopefully there’ll be a signifcant difference by the time I’ve finished some of the big boys in February. Watch this space.