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Reading Corner: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Recently, I read, and loved, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It’s uplifting, heartbreaking and downright genius. Eleanor Oliphant’s mind is complex and contradictory: simultaneously full of confusion and certainty, denial and acceptance, darkness and light. She evolves as the novel progresses, and it’s encouraging to see a character with such a distorted view of both life and of herself change in a positive way and confront her past and her fears. Continue reading Reading Corner: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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Reading Corner: Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell

One benefit to lockdown (for me especially as I am alone in my student house still) is having time to read undistracted meaning I can enjoy reading more leisurely. It is especially useful for starting books that are written almost like filigree lace and take time to unpick. Lawrence Durrell’s work is perfect for this – I can think of few other writers that cause me to check a dictionary in delight at seeing words new to me. His close focus on style requires the reader to self-indulgently luxuriate their way through his books – and now stuck inside we can. In this way, something like the Alexandria Quartet could keep me occupied for most of lockdown in blissful escapism, yet it lacks the pertinence of Bitter Lemons. Continue reading Reading Corner: Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell

My Culture Comforts: Normal People by Sally Rooney

It’s hardly surprising, as a third year English student, that my main comfort at home is our family bookcase. My current favourite, which I’ve been rereading over the past week is Sally Rooney’s Normal People, published in August of 2018. Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends is also worth a read! Normal People is centred around the lives of two teenagers – Marianne and Connell, very much in love, whose ‘will they/won’t they’ conundrum becomes the tie which echoes throughout the novel, and is something that readers can’t help but become emotionally attached to. What’s more, the novel’s main themes of love and loss, endurance through hardship, personal growth and self-discovery are so prevalent, especially in our current climate. Watch out for the television adaptation of the novel which is said to be coming out soon! Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Reading Corner: Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls (audiobook)

Having tried audiobooks in the past, I have never actually been able to finish one – always getting bored or losing concentration for too long so the storyline no longer makes any sense. Something about listening to a thirteen-hour audio seems more daunting and time consuming that just simply reading the book. Now, however, since time is not an issue, and distractions from the outside world are near-impossible, I decided it was a perfect time to give them another try. Using yet another fake email (I know, I’m a cheapskate), I signed up for my third free audible trial, browsing the listings for a book that I both wanted to read and did not yet have a physical copy of. I’m a huge David Nicholls fan, having read all four of his other novels, and his latest release Sweet Sorrow has been on my to-read list since it came out last summer. Continue reading Reading Corner: Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls (audiobook)

My Culture Comforts: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I unintentionally rediscovered a huge part of my childhood that I had almost forgot existed – Alice in Wonderland. I reread the book for one of my modules, and it was the most nostalgic thing I’ve done in so long. As a kid, I was obsessed with fantastical stories and escapism, and rereading this one brought everything back. So I watched the film again (the Tim Burton one with Johnny Depp in), and it’s safe to say it remains one of my favourite films ever. With all that’s going on at the moment, it was a nice little escape from reality. Strongly recommend! Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Reading Corner: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

My sister and I gave The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse to our mum for Christmas – a wise present it turns out, seeing as I’ve now read it more times than she has. Looking at it again this past week has been a comforting escape. The book is formed from a collection of beautifully expressive ink illustrations with handwritten words, stitched together by a gently anchoring narrative. We follow four friends: an inquisitive boy who asks questions about the world and ponders his relationships with the others; a mole full of reassuring words, whose thoughts are also largely occupied by cake (which makes for some of my favourite moments); a fox who is reserved and quiet because of their past, yet loved by the others no matter what; and a wise horse who reveals an ability to fly. The story’s subtle linearity stitches the order of the pages together, but you don’t need to read it cover to cover. Each page is an isolated piece of art and storytelling in its own right, so dip in and dip out; you’ll never be lost in the story. Continue reading Reading Corner: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

The Metamorphosing English Language

Thousands of words may have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in recent years, yet it would be a mistake to think that this is the limit of English. The OED, being a descriptivist endeavour, will always be lagging behind, and now more so than ever, as new technology permits new registers for language to be played with. Social media platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp create a written medium that has the speed and interaction of speech and come with their own newly minted lexicons. Yet it is important for the OED to recognise the new words that emerge from these kinds of mediums of communication, partly as a resource for studying the language, but also to give words a sense of respectability – like a shield to hold off those pedants decrying the deterioration of English. As such, see this article as more of a personal view on changes to the language that I like, not a judgement on the new words. Continue reading The Metamorphosing English Language