January Wrap Up

Hi all!

Happy New Year!

I’ve started my new Goodreads Challenge for the year and am doing well with having read 3 books of my 20 book goal for the year.

I started off the year with Turtles All the Way Down by John Green which was great, even better than I expected and the main character is so beautifully written.

I next read Lumberjanes Vol.2, a graphic novel about girl scouts who get involved in a whole bunch of mysteries and magic shenanagans. These are so simple and easy to read I’m loving them as a break from ‘real’ reading.

Last off I read Descender Vol.2, another graphic novel series, and I’m obsessed with this one, so excited to find out what happens next!

I’m currently now listening to the audiobook of Remainder by Tom McCarthy for university which is pretty good although I didn’t think I would like it. So for the month of February I’m planning on finishing Remainder, reading a lot more uni books and probably the next couple volumes of Descender!

What are your reading goals for the year? Any good reads in January?

– Emma

October 2017 TBR (Including Yearathon TBR)

Welcome back to my blog after another year-long hiatus because uni always takes up more time than I expect, meaning that I tend to stop blogging or just post sporadically. However,  I wanted to start it up again this year and actually try to stick to it by using the blog as an aid to my uni course. I felt like that would be useful and allow me to keep updating my blog without feeling bad that I’m not doing uni work, so a lot of the books on this blog will be ones that I am studying on my Masters course.

Therefore, this month’s to-be-read list is mostly uni books and I am going to take part in just one readathon as I haven’t done any for so long.

The Yearathon is taking place in this first week of October and therefore I am planning to read a bunch of uni books as I would like to get ahead before term gets busy. This means that I’m not sticking to the theme of the readathon but I will be participating in the challenge. The October Yearathon can be found here and the theme this month is LGBTQ+, while the challenge is to read poetry or short stories.

First off I want to finish reading Findings by Kathleen Jamie which I am really enjoying so far and I am counting as part of the challenge because it’s a collection of short essays (basically the same as reading a bunch of short stories right?). Another course book that I want to get through this week is Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Robert Deakin although I only need to read a few small sections so I am also going to count this as part of the challenge. Lastly, I just need to read a section of Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, and At the Yeoman’s House by Ronald Blythe which is a short book so I am actually counting all of these as part of the challenge.

I am also currently reading Northern Lights by Philip Pullman as a non-uni book so would like to finish that this month but it depends if I am sick of reading after my uni books.

Then the rest of my uni reading for the month will be:

  • The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
  • Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
  • Beside the Ocean of Time by George Mackay Brown
  • Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill
  • And finally some poems by Robinson Jeffers

I’ll do a wrap-up of my Yearathon reading at the end of the week and then a monthly wrap-up at the end of the month, along with possibly doing some posts about specific books if I have time.

Thanks for reading and see you next time, comment and tell me if you are reading any of the same books this month or if you’re participating in the Yearathon this month too!

Fun Writing vs Essays, Vlogging and Dante’s Inferno

It feels like I am constantly stressing about all the essays that I have to do but now that I’ve started back on the fun writing I feel a little addicted, as its nice just to get my thoughts out and everything. I really hate doing my essays as I am so slow when it comes to writing them and they are pretty hard to get motivated to do and then think up good ideas for sometimes, yet I still love the feeling after finishing them and when I can see that I’ve actually done well in them. I’m going to try and keep blogging regularly though and do little bits of creative writing, I’ll just have to try and make sure that I can keep it in time with essays and everything. I’m looking forward to the end of term when I will have no more essays but can just catch up on my reading and get ready for exams instead.

I was talking to someone from one of my classes the other day who was saying about their course which is creative writing where as I just do pure literature and that sounds really cool, I’d quite like to try a module in it next year but by the looks of it I can’t as I didn’t do any modules in it this year. It’s okay if not though, I will just keep up with my own fun writing and that should be good. I did a vlog the other day as well, which is just a video version of a blog essentially, as I’ve wanted to for a long time now but  I couldn’t even figure out how to edit it so it’s pretty bad and I just uploaded it privately. It’s pretty fun though, I really want to work on my confidence and happiness as I feel like I’ve kind of forgotten about why I came to uni.

Obviously, I’m using uni in order to get a degree and a job, but the real reason i wanted to do this opposed to just getting a job straight out of college was just that I wanted to get some freedom and just work on improving myself, so I really want to find what it is that I enjoy the most and the things which boost my confidence and spend more time on those things.

I feel like some aspects of my course do this as I find certain things interesting, especially learning about books which were pretty radical at the time and have had massive effects on society as I’m pretty uncultured so it’s really cool to learn about things like that. We’re doing Dante’s Inferno is one of my classes at the moment and it’s so cool to learn about as I had no idea it was such a bit deal in Italy, having only heard the odd references to the 9 circles of hell before. But we’ve been learning about how the ideas impacted society at the time and how it was revolutionary in terms of being in Italian rather than Latin seeing as this made it way more accessible. This means we’ve talked quite a bit about what society was like in Italy at the time and about the language and all the politics and religious ideas that were around at the time.

It’s so interesting to learn all this stuff, despite having found history really boring before, but I think that was just because I never learnt anything in history class other than stuff about wars which I’m not interested in as I just find stuff like that kind of depressing. I find it cool that all of the historical and political things which we’ve been learning about are in the contexts of the books rather than just random facts on their own which I always find hard to remember or really care about.

I think this was probably just a bit of a ramble but oh well! See you soon.

University Catch-Up

I’m about half way through my second term of university now, I haven’t been posting just because of all the work I have to do. As a literature student, I am meant to read 2 books a week and write 500 words a week in addition to an essay due in every 2-3 weeks, so after all that writing I’m not really in the mood to write a blog post as well. I get stressed out pretty easily and so when I’ve had free time am wanting to hang out with my friends, visit my boyfriend and family or just gaming, but have missed blogging, it’s nice being able to just write about the things I like.

As it has been so long, I’m not going to bother with an update on all the books, films, games and anything else I would have wanted to post about, I’ll just start again from here, posting when I have time and just about the things I want to. I’ve sorted out a sort of plan for how I will change up my working routine so that I’ll have time to read all the books and should also have enough time and different things going on that I shouldn’t feel too stressed or pressured into posting. I would totally recommend that anyone going to university for a course which is mostly independent work to sort out some sort of plan for what work you will do when. This is just because before I made a proper plan like this it can be a bit intimidating to have so many deadlines and wanting to get everything perfect that you can start neglecting the work which isn’t as important so for me this would mean that I’d skip a few of the books I had to read when I was getting really stressed.

I’ve started doing pilates and yoga everyday though and that has seriously helped me to stop stressing out and is also great for self confidence and everything even though I mostly just started it to get fit. It has really helped me in that too, I’ve got all my muscle back, maybe even a little more than before, and am getting out of breath a lot less too because although I’m a regular size, I was really unfit!

I think that’ll be about it for now, meaning I don’t know when I’ll post next but I’m looking forward to just having fun with this again! See you soon!

Starting University and Comic-Con

I’ve only done the one post since starting uni; https://emlinian.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/the-year-of-the-flood-by-margaret-atwood/ but that was just a book post and I haven’t posted since because its all been so busy and different so I thought I would do a post about that. I’ve been here for over a month now and I admit I have been freaking out just a little, I love it here I really do but it is pretty daunting to suddenly be all on your own.

Basically this is just my little update post to try and get back into blogging as I’ve been pretty busy with all the work I have to do as the thing with a literature course is that there isn’t many actual class hours but there is lots to do out of class as I have to read at least 2 books a week which is pretty intense. As well as that, I’ve been pretty ill, just lots of coughing and feeling crappy but it kinda gets you down. Then of course there is all that cool stuff that I’ve been up to such as meeting people, joining societies, going to the bars etc which is all so amazing. I miss my family and boyfriend lots but me and him went to comic-con in London recently as it was his birthday present from me, and we absolutely loved it. I would definitely recommend going to anyone who is on the fence about it, although you should know that for the main part it is just merch stalls, which is good but it does make you want to spend a lot of money. We did get to play a few of the games which were there though such as the new Borderlands and Assassins Creed which was pretty cool to do, and there are talks which go in the the theaters, and the food there is amazing too. The cosplays are awesome to see as well, I would love to do one next year although it would probably be pretty basic as I have never attempted one before.

I’m back at uni now though and actually have a few essays due in quite soon which is pretty scary and that I need to start thinking about, so that will probably be taking up a lot of my time pretty soon as well. The lectures and everything are quite easy to keep up with as the content isn’t that different to A-level, what is different is the amount of independent work as there is all the reading to do and rather than spend ages focusing on one book, I am looking at a different one each week in the classes.

Anyone reading this just started uni too? Or got some awesome tips? Hopefully I will be able to do another post pretty soon, so see you then!

Doing Well in Your A-Levels and Getting Into University!

In a couple weeks I’ll be off to university and it was so hard to get through A-levels with good grades and I’m now so excited to go so I thought it would be nice to do a post about it as it’s been great and then for anyone who wants some tips on A-levels and on applying to university. So I live in England where the school system after high school goes into optional study, meaning you can choose whether you go to college and do A-levels after your GCSE’s, and then after that you can choose whether you want to go to uni and get a degree.I don’t know how much this differs to other places and I think it’s changing soon here but that’s how it was for me. So when it came to choosing A-levels I went for a range as I wasn’t really sure what I would want to do afterwards, I had always loved Literature but didn’t think it was worth doing past A-level as I didn’t think there would be any jobs in it, so I was actually looking into nursing degrees when I came to choosing my subjects, so to leave myself open to any science degrees look two science A-levels. If you want to do a science course at uni, then you need to do two science A-levels a lot of the time, and some may require maths. A warning if you are heading into A-levels though; science subjects are really hard just because there is so much to remember, and you will probably have no lessons for revision but all for learning (especially with biology) so although you may understand it in class, you need to go through EVERYTHING out of class in order to know all you need to.

When it comes to A-levels the amount you need to work really depends on your ability, your subjects and how suited to your subjects you are but I was in the top classes for everything during my GCSE’s and then found A-levels so hard. In terms of revision my friends didn’t do much so I would have to sit there working through my notes while they all played games quite a few times, and takign the odd break for a card game or something but ultimately just doing loads of work. I didn’t do this as much in my first year but you really should because I then resat a couple of exams in my second, because although I passed them and was pleased with what I got, the courses I wanted to get on at uni wanted higher grades. I went through a whole load of revision cards, filling them with info throughout the whole year then making question cards for ones I answered wrong in  past papers. This took a lot of time but seriously did help, I also just read through my notes, I did all of my homework, went through the answers when I got it back and learnt all I got wrong through revision cards and extra help sessions which my college held at lunch times. I definitely recommend doing past papers and going over everything you get wrong until you can do it right every time because some questions are repeated across years or you may have a similar style of question.

For essay based subjects you should really find or think of as many essay questions as you can and make essay plans for them. I started off with A4 essay plans then went through them until I could rattle them off without looking much, then reduced them down until they were just on revision cards but I could write a whole essay off of those few words, as then I was able to look through the words in the lead up to the exam, remember those and I could remember the essays I had practiced. Of course doing all this didn’t give me perfect scores but it really did help and I wouldn’t have done as good as I did without doing all of this, these things may not work for everyone though.

Now when it comes to looking at universities you should bare in mind a whole load of things such as how good the course is, how high the grades they ask for are, the location of the university, whether you want to stay there or live at home, and whether you could afford it. Some choices may come obvious to you, some may be hard and there are probably somethings you will have to sacrifice. I gathered many different prospectuses, and went to look at 6 different universities. When you are looking at them, all you have to go off of is your AS grades (first year of A-Levels) and as mine were not as high as a lot of universities asked for I had to look at specific courses that were good but not the one I would have chosen, I also looked at ones slightly further away than I would have liked and ones where accommodation was expensive. In the end you need a wide range of choices as not all may give you an offer, then you only get one firm choice and one insurance choice so need both to be ones you like, and for your insurance choice to have lower grades that your firm or else if you don’t get high enough grade for your firm choice you won’t be able to go to your insurance either.

I was actually very lucky as out of the five I applied to I was given an offer from all five despite the grade I had at the time being lower than what all five asked for (although one was in tariff points and I had some extra things which would have counted and bumped me up a couple grades into what they wanted). So I was applying for English literature as during A-Levels I really started hating learning science and knew it was just not what I wanted to do as a job and instead found out there were a lot more possible jobs to get with literature than I had thought because as English is a pretty core subject, the degree can be great for a large number of jobs. If you just google the degree you would like and ‘possible jobs’ you should get large lists which you can consider and may reassure you. As literature is an essay based subject, the personal statement held a lot of merit as it would with any essay based subject as writing is what you are going to be doing when you get there so you need to show you are good. Of course it is important for applying to any course though so I would suggest checking out http://www.studential.com/ which has a whole load of advice for applying, but i just used the personal statement section where you can read people’s personal statements, see their grades and where they got into as this helps in knowing what kind of tone to write in and the sort of thing to write about. Obviously you can’t copy them or parts of them as any plagiarism or lies in your statement would probably get caught and it isn’t worth it but it’s super helpful for ideas.

Also, for your personal statement I would recommend checking over it a lot of times, if your teachers are happy to, you may be able to ask their opinions on it and get some ideas that way. I split my personal statement into 5 paragraphs;

  1. Why I like literature and want to study it as a degree
  2. What I was doing as A-Levels and how they are well suited for the degree I want
  3. Hobbies which work with the course (I talked about how I read a lot, was in a book club, had done NaNoWriMo and have this blog as they are all literature linked)
  4. Hobbies separate from the course (to show you are a well rounded person not just interested in the one thing)
  5. What I was thinking of doing after university and why.

There are a few other sections of the application though such as imputing your qualifications where I was advised it is better to but the overall grade but not the modules as it looks cleaner, but that’s probably not that important, it just looks a little nicer, some places may prefer to see them I don’t know. Another factor is that your teachers are required to give a reference for you and will be truthful so you want to get on their good side, also be open to them if you are worried about getting grades the universities are asking for as they could be able to reassure you or may add into your reference about you being able to get the grades they want (only if you actually can of course). Attending extra sessions and always doing homework are things that they probably put in there as well so working hard and being open about it to your teachers really pays off.

This was fun to write as I it took so much to do well in A-levels and get into university, I hope this helps some people too, I’ll see you soon.

Also, here’s a photo for you of all my notes and revision cards for my second year of A-Levels (and resits but not with any of the textbooks from either year);