Reflection: June 2018

June was a good month! We got some beautiful weather here in England, and I finished my exams, which left time for a good amount of reading, often out in the sunshine. After having it taunting me on my shelf for the whole of May, I finally got to read A Court of Frost and Starlight, alongside two other novels – one of which was a total wildcard. I returned to old favourites, experienced the bizarre, and learned a few things.

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BOOKS READ

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (2018) *Slight spoilers

Predictably, as a massive fan of Sarah J. Maas’ works, ACOFAS was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year. I couldn’t wait to return to the world of the Inner Circle and see what was in store for them in the aftermath of A Court of Wings and Ruin.

Overall, as with all of Sarah J. Maas’ works, I found the description beautiful and the characters intriguing. Seeing Velaris in ruin was saddening, but it was definitely important to the growth of the characters and their mindsets. I particularly enjoyed seeing the direction that Nesta’s story is taking; she’s unlike any other character I’ve ever read, and I think seeing her method of dealing with grief and destruction provides a powerful alternative to the ways in which it is portrayed by the other characters.

It’s difficult to really review this book, however, as given its format as a novella between novels, it doesn’t seem to have much of its own plot and so there was no clear beginning, middle, and end. That being said, on its own it worked well as a quick read, and as always I was delighted to return to any world created by SJM.

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (1997)

When researching modern spirituality, it seems almost impossible to avoid seeing Eckhart Tolle’s name in a multitude of places; his teachings have been hugely influential. I went into The Power of Now with high expectations due to this, and I can honestly say that some parts of it truly resonated with me.

Tolle takes us through a combination of his own experiences, references to historical events, and practical activities to help the reader to understand the overall message of the book: that we only ever have the present moment, and that things can only ever be done in it. Worrying about the past or future can be avoided if we focus on this.

His explanation of psychological vs. clock time was the most powerful for me, as Tolle argues that we always have the choice of whether we want to live in accordance with our minds or with linear clock time. Psychological time is confused, jumping back and forth between past and future and allowing this to influence the way the present is perceived. Living in clock time, however, means that we align our thoughts and what we must do with the steady pace of the present. To me, this was a massive breakthrough. If I catch myself thinking in psychological time, I try to recognise this, and switch to the steady rhythm of the clock.

I can understand why there are some criticisms of this book: Tolle is very repetitive, but for me this only served to reinforce his message so that you really take it to heart and think it through. His tone is also often quite direct, meaning that you really have to be open to his ideas and not take them as personal criticisms. Everything is written from a place where it is clear that Tolle only has the best interests of the readers (and world) in mind.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell (2001)

This was one of the strangest books I have ever read. Having not been familiar with any of Mitchell’s works beforehand, I was not prepared for his experimental writing style or eclectic themes when reading Number 9 Dream. The story follows Eiji Miyake on his quest to find his father in Tokyo. On the surface, this seems like a standard coming-of-age plotline. It’s just the way that Mitchell gets there that is ridiculous, but intriguing.

The book is arranged into nine sections, each focusing on a different stage of Eiji’s quest. To demonstrate just how strange this became however, in one section he was a fish tank cleaner shooting a cyborg, in another he was reading about a woman who was actually a chicken, in another he was kidnapped by a gang and forced to go bowling with them. That’s only a small amount of the strangeness, too.

Although this book is completely outside of anything I’d normally read, I actually found myself enjoying it a lot. Although I wasn’t necessarily gripped by a love for the characters or the plot, I just couldn’t stop wanting to know what wild scenario Mitchell would come up with next. In a strange comparison, the book reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale in the way that the protagonist was completely unreliable, and we couldn’t trust anything that was actually happening. Similarly, the ending is equally ambiguous, which I found slightly frustrating, but it aligned with what I think Mitchell’s overall message was.

I wouldn’t say that I’d necessarily recommend this book because of my love for it, but I would suggest if you want a very bizarre adventure, to give it a go.

Rating: 3/5 stars


FILMS WATCHED

The Breakfast Club (1985) – Poignant and timelessly relatable (4/5 stars)

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We are now halfway through the year, and I am just under halfway through my reading goal for 2018. I’m hoping that with summer well and truly upon us, I can spend yet more days in the garden with a good few reads. BookTubeAThon also happens to be this month (it is genuinely one of the highlights of my year every year), so I will be posting plenty of updates in the near future with what I’m getting up to! It also happens to be YALC soon too, so I can’t wait for a good bookish few weeks!

First book for July: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Are you going to YALC or taking part in BookTubeAThon? What was your favourite read of June? Let me know!

Have a lovely day,

Bex

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