Category Archives: Books

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: Book Review.

In 2012, Jon Ronson’s online identity was stolen. Jon publicly confronted the imposters, a trio of academics who had created a Jon Ronson Twitter bot obsessed by unlikely food combinations and weird sex. At first, Jon was delighted to find strangers all over the world uniting to support him in his outrage. The wrongdoers were quickly shamed into stopping. But then things got out of hand.

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This encounter prompted Jon to explore the phenomenon of public shaming and what he discovered astonished him. As he meets famous shamers and shamees, Jon learns just how quickly public ridicule, often delivered from anonymous or distant sources, can devastate its victim. After our collective fury has raged with the force of a hurricane, we forget about it and move on, and it doesn’t cross our minds to wonder what we’ve done. How big a transgression really justifies someone losing their job? What about the people who become global targets for doing nothing more than making a bad joke on Twitter, do they deserve to have their lives ruined? How is this renaissance of shaming changing the world and what is the true reason behind it? Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and our very scary part in it. (Goodreads)

I think this book may be a staple for navigating the modern world.  This is so important in a contemporary world where most of us exist on at least one, if not several, social media platforms. Living in such a public sphere means everyone has the ability to be challenged, scrutinised and ruined by the growing strength of internet shaming. This book delves deep into this idea, discussing numerous examples where internet users took a person’s mistake or indiscretion and blew it up, using it to tarnish their reputations, livelihoods and mental states. It discusses how damning these sorts of shamings are, as in an offline world these things could be dealt with at a far smaller and more private level. The people who Ronson engages with and whose stories he shares show that once this kind of shame is vocalised and is perpetuated there is no turning back.

I loved the comparisons which Ronson drew between modern day internet shaming and the historical, archaic versions of shaming, where people would be publicly whipped or stoned in town squares. He discusses how these shamings almost happened on a somewhat micro level, yet how now people are shamed for often smaller and less *severe* acts, wrongdoings or ill judged social media posts, yet are shamed at such a macro and cut throat level. In addition, this book discusses WHY people are so quick to shame others, and how it may be a form of deflection, which I find incredibly interesting. It is interesting to consider conformity and social influences on the internet, and why people are so enthusiastic and ready to fixate on another person’s wrongdoing. While at times it may be a reaction to something we disagree with, the motivation to shame may be something deeper than that, such as a morbid interest in bringing other people down.

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What is interesting about this book is reading about the thoughts and feelings of those who have experienced public shaming, and the personal regret they feel for their indiscretions, as well as the anger at social media for exaggerating and defaming them, often before they had a chance to defend themselves. It really made me stop and think about the times in which I may have engaged in the public shaming of a person, and how to strike a balance between challenging, debating or speaking out against injustices to ignite social change, and downright slamming a person publicly. I think this book is important in making us more aware of the dangers of attacking others on social media and will hopefully encourage far more mindful social media use. However, I think there is definitely a difference between questioning somebody or encouraging accountability and simply attacking a person for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon. This book has encouraged me to think before I engage, to ensure I am doing the former opposed to the latter.

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This book is extremely interesting and easy to read for a non fiction. It is relatively short also, so if you are interested in the idea of public shaming or are unsure as to what that is, this book is definitely worth a quick read.

What are your opinions on public shaming on the internet? I’d love to know.

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A Sunday afternoon wrap up: what I’m reading and what I’ve read this week.

Happy Sunday!

I thought I’d do little wrap ups from time to time on Sundays, to summarise what I’ve read during the week and what I’ve been up to!

This week has been slightly uneventful in terms of reading. My mum and I were really busy helping my grandma move house, and so every time I had a break where I could’ve read I was far too tired! I have barely updated my Goodreads this week, as I have been doing odd reading here and there, but not much else!

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I’m still reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, the third book in the Outlander series. While I am enjoying it, I think I need a bit of break from this series to read other things, as these are VERY long books. I’m loving the story though and I obviously can’t say a lot (I don’t do spoilers), but I definitely want to review Outlander for you guys at some point!

Pages read: 55

Currently on page: 375 of 1072

 

 

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I also am reading History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, a contemporary novel following Griffin, whose ex boyfriend and best friend has died in an accident. The novel flips between Griffin and Theo’s relationship in the beginning, and the present day where he has attended Theo’s funeral and meets Jackson, who was dating Theo when he died. I’m really enjoying this so far and I have already cried a few times. It is subtly beautiful and a really great piece of YA fiction, with some great LGBTQ representation and positive family relationships.

Pages read: 73

Currently on page: 73 of 320

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Lastly, due to my complete lack of enthusiasm and energy this week I decided to pick up something comforting and fun, so I decided to start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling for the gazillionth time. There is no question as to whether I’m enjoying this or not, it is my favourite series of all time and – as I read books 1-3 at the start of the year – I decided to pick up where I left off.

Pages read: 45

Currently on page: 45 of 734

 

As such, my total page count for the week is 173 pages, which I am pretty pleased with. I’m hoping next week to spend a bit more time reading and relaxing as I don’t have much plans, other than seeing Matt Haig at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Friday, which I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT. Maybe next week’s check in will see me having finished one of these books, or maybe even two!

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Circe by Madeline Miller: Book Review.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

CirceWhen love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love(Goodreads)

After reading and adoring The Song of Achilles last year, I was so incredibly excited for Circe to come out. I waited in anticipation and had to stop myself from starting it in the weeks before my dissertation deadline. I was disciplined, saving it for the week after I had handed in my final piece of coursework, and then I devoured it. It was worth the wait.

Madeline Miller is a naturally gifted storyteller. The way in which she recounts Greek myth is truly captivating, and for somebody who has a very limited knowledge of Greek mythology, I did not feel at all disadvantaged when reading this novel. It managed to explain and remind me who different Gods or characters were (I knew the names of many Gods but not their vocations) without making it an obvious Greek myth lesson. Instead, information was abundant but subtle. I’d recommend this to anybody, regardless of whether you have heard of Circe previously, or are at all familiar with Greek mythologies.

The writing in this novel is beautiful, atmospheric and incredibly moreish. The descriptions of setting, from the lands of the Gods and her father, Helios’ home, to the island to which she is exiled are so delightful to imagine. I found myself simultaneously wanting to eat the story up, while also wanting to read slowly and immerse myself, enjoying every word.

The plot of this novel is surprisingly full of different facets. Circe has many an interesting visitor to her island of exile and embarks on adventures of her own. These aspects incorporate some of the more famous Greek stories (including characters such as Odysseus, Prometheus, Jason and more), which will thrill any Greek mythology buff. I loved experiencing these famous characters and tales from the perspective of Circe, a small part of their larger stories.

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I loved this story and the portrayal of the Gods. I’ve always loved the Greek idea of multiple deities, and the way in which they are portrayed as being selfish and harsh and focused primarily on their pleasures.  While there are a number of interesting characters and Greek God guest stars, Circe is by far the most interesting. She is not necessarily a perfect character, possessing the flaws and impulse and erratic emotion which characterises Greek Gods. She does seemingly horrid things and at times makes silly mistakes. However, in ways this makes her far more of a realistic heroine to root for, and gives her an interesting, ‘mortal like’ quality. She experiences fantastic character development, after lifetimes of being treated and seen as nothing, being overlooked by those she hoped would love her, and some fairly brutal treatment she flourishes in exile, revelling in her own power and company, finding her strengths and developing. I love the idea that after experiencing so much pining and sadness at the hands of those who overlooked her she becomes all that she will ever need, depending far less on others. She exudes girl power and independence.

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Overall, I loved this book and I simply can’t recommend it to you enough. I think it may well be my favourite of the year, and may be one of my new favourites of all time. I would seriously recommend it. Beautiful, elegant, poignant, accessible for Greek novices (like myself), and a literary treat.

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Shall we get reacquainted?

So I haven’t posted in about a year, and in that time a lot of things have happened that have changed who I am somewhat. So I thought it might be useful to post a little update/get to know me post.

GRADUATIONThe last time I posted was just before I embarked on my fourth and final year as an undergraduate student. I was so excited to get going and start my dissertation (I adore research and writing so I found this significantly less of a chore than I expected to). However, I did find the year quite rough. I was extremely nervous and stressy throughout a lot of it and spent so much time doubting myself and my abilities. I lost faith in my ability to write a good essay, understand simple concepts and I was worrying myself into oblivion.

Despite all that, I came out the other side as a graduate. More specifically, I graduated with a first class Bachelor of Arts with honours in Applied Social Sciences from Robert Gordon University. Not only that, but I am a month away from embarking on a Masters degree in Applied Psychology at the same university, with the hopes of one day becoming a fully fledged psychologist. Big stuff!

On top of graduating, I also became an aunty! My beautiful niece, Lyana, was born on the 14th of December 2017 and since then I have learnt a lot; namely that I am not as terrible with children as I once assumed, I am good at reading kids books (I do voices), and that getting pureed cauliflower into a baby’s mouth is a challenge very few succeed at.  I love being an aunty, especially to the most beautiful little girl imaginable.

Since graduating, I have had a lot of time to think and to devote time to the things I love, meaning I have started to write again. I have recently dipped my toe back into fiction, trying to write my own story as a passion project for myself. I can’t say I’m much good at it, however it gives me a way to exercise my imagination, as well as something to stick my teeth into. I’m loving it.

Lastly – and probably most importantly in regards to this blog – I have been reading way more books than I have done the last few years. This is due to many reasons (which I’m going to discuss in a blog post in the coming weeks), but I am finally reading at a pace somewhat similar to pre university Amy’s standards. Since finishing my undergrad in May I have been slowly building up my reading stamina and I am so proud of my progress and I am ultimately thrilled to be back to myself.


I hope this post wasn’t too boring/self indulgent, and that I may be able to get to know those of you who have read this. I am so excited to be back blogging!

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I’m trying again.

I think I’ve fallen into this pattern so many times. For years I have tried to successfully maintain a book blog, having moved from different websites and starting new blogs from scratch because I was (quite frankly) embarrassed about how frequently life would get on top of me and I would just stop publishing posts…only to later resurface apologising for my absence.

I’m kind of doing that again.

I absolutely adore talking about books, sharing what I’ve been reading and shouting about my passion for literature, which is why I started this blog in the first place. However, I think one of the major problems that I have continued to have – which ultimately have caused me to feel dispassionate about posting – is that when/if I have slower reading weeks or months I don’t know what to post about.  While reading is my primary hobby I am not an overly fast reader, and sometimes life gets in the way meaning I read little or not at all. This can be a problem when I am aiming to create bookish posts and can make me nervous to keep re-trying the whole blogging thing.

After having considered why I keep on dipping in and out of blogging, I have decided that maybe I need to have a somewhat relaxed approach to it as, after all, it is for my enjoyment. Therefore, I have decided that – while my posts will be primarily bookish – I will write about whatever may take my fancy when the time arises. That way, I can incorporate other passions that I have and other things that I may want to discuss (such as personal life events, lifestyle, current events, social commentary, music, movies etc.) in and around my book content, so that even if I have reading slumps or busy spells I will (hopefully) always want to write SOMETHING.

I hope that some of the followers that I accrued last year when I had my blogging mojo are still around, as I loved talking to you and engaging in discussion. If you are, I hope you can forgive me for being a bit of a blogging fail. I am going to try again, with the hopes that I can share what I love with like minded people and enjoy myself all the while.

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How to Stop Time by Matt Haig.

GUYS THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT BOOK REVIEW.

HOW TO STOPE TIME

I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love. (Goodreads)

Continue reading How to Stop Time by Matt Haig.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

Another day, another book review. Today’s review is of Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

juliet takes a breath

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff. 

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle? 

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.  (Goodreads)

Continue reading Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò.

Today’s book review is of  Stay with Me, a debut novel by Ayòbámi Adébáyò which was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

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Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Measks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of  family. (Goodreads)

Continue reading Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

‘All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time…’

On his eighty-third birthday, Eddie, a lonely war veteran, dies in a tragic accident trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his – and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden but a place where earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed your path forever. (Goodreads).

I enjoyed this book as the plot was extremely interesting to me. Afterlife is something that *almost* everyone is at least slightly intrigued about. The unknown is interesting and scary, and so I was intrigued by the idea of reliving your life through five people present in it. Through this concept we see moments and insights into Eddie’s history and the impact that his actions have had on other people throughout his life (some of which he does not know of until death). The figures he meets vary in the length of time present in his life or the impact they had on him, which I again found interesting. Every meeting seemingly has a moral to their part of the story, which I also enjoyed. It reaffirmed the idea that there is something to be learned from all experiences. It really made me consider my actions through life and who I would want to see or what stories those people could tell of my life.

I read this book the week after losing my grandfather, and in an odd way it comforted me. I can’t explain how, but I felt like I needed this read at this time.

“Holding anger is a poison…It eats you from inside…We think that by hating someone we hurt them…But hatred is a curved blade…and the harm we do to others…we also do to ourselves.” 

The plot was both heartwarming in points, sad in others, and at times quite dark. I enjoyed the writing, and found myself writing down several quotes because they impacted me. I found the writing poetic and poignant at points, while not constant throughout.

“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.” 

I do not have a lot to say about this book, but I feel that it is definitely worth a read if you are interested in different perspectives or views regarding afterlife or what lies beyond death and what our lives mean to those around us and the consequences of our actions. I definitely feel that my perception of this book was altered by the circumstances under which I read it, however I would still recommend it to anyone!

 

My favourite rereads.

Life gets busy and things get stressful, and in those times I find it really hard to focus on reading new books and my enthusiasm tends to dip. At this time – while I still want to read – I find it really hard to immerse myself into new stories. To remedy this I love to reread some old favourites. Today I thought I’d share some of those favourites, and also include some books I haven’t reread in a while but that I am eager to reach for.

1/ To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbirdI have said this several times on this blog, but To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most important books I have ever read and I absolutely adore it. I find it charming in its childhood innocence, and I find the story captivating and it touches my heart in a poignant way. I have reread this several times, and – as I associate it with a time in my life that was really difficult – it is the book I turn to when I need a bit an escape from my troubles.

 

 

2/ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou has been a role model of mine since I picked up Caged Bird in 2015. I recently reread it and was reminded of how much I adore Maya Angelou and I was maya angelouimmersed into her life in a way I can’t describe. Maya’s life and how she tells her story lead to me reading all of her autobiographies, and I would like to reread them all at some point. If you would like to know more about my love for Maya Angelou, I wrote an entire blog post about her that you can check out.

 

 

 

3/ Harry Potter

I think this is an extremely obvious one. Similar to a lot of readers, Harry Potter was integral to my life and has continued to be central to my reading ever since I first read the books. Most recently, I have been following the illustrated editions of the books (illustrated by Jim Kay)

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Follow me on Instagram at @amytalksbooks if you’d like to see a constant stream of books and hot beverages.

as they are released and have been rereading them this way, which has been a vibrant and new way to enjoy the magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Above are some of my favourite rereads, and now I thought I’d share a few that I want to get to soon.

1/ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I adored this book when I first read it in the winter of 2013. I became sorely engrossed in the gothic, mysterious and swoon worthy story and I am looking forward to buying myself a stunning edition of this book (I read a copy from the library) and curling up by the fire on a cold, winter’s night and revisiting Jane at Thornfield.

2/ Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This book comes to mind whenever I don’t feel like myself or am struggling mentally and emotionally. Right now I feel I could really benefit from this book, and I am definitely picking it up as soon as I can. If you’d like to know my thoughts on this book, I have a blog post which you can read.

3/ Imperium by Robert Harris

This book is the first in a trilogy following the Roman politician and orator, Cicero. I adored this trilogy and devoured it last year. I would love to revisit it and pick up more of the references and history than I did upon the first read. If you would like to see my full thoughts (spoiler free) on this series, click here.


I hope you guys enjoyed this post. Until next time!