There is something about music that stirs me primally. It disturbs me how it can cascade through my mind. Only when I listen to music, do I tap into parts of myself which are reserved for the divine. This is uncontrollable. I compare it to drinking a glass of good whiskey.
Normally I go look for the science of it all, try and understand parts of my brain that causes this. Not today.
Today I admit music’s true power. It’s human magic and cannot be explained purely by science. Our language doesn’t have a chance against this allurement and the feelings conjured.
Although I know I am someone who feels deeply, and could simply be overly sensitive to most human experiences, I cannot deny the truth in it. Music is a balm.
Like a drug, it’s effect is heady. A simple lyric, drum beat, or refrain can cause my heart to beat faster, my head to feel light, and my hands to tingle.
We are listening to other’s love, sorrow, pain, anger. Our bodies are trained to hear this for better or for worse.
It is a chasm I grateful leap into at every possible chance, my sweet prince.
Remember, I don’t even need to name individual songs/albums/artists, because you’re already thinking of the one.
Inspired by: My Sweet Prince – Placebo (1998 – Without You I’m Nothing)
Hello, fellow bookworms! I see you there. 😉 In this post, I would like to talk about my Goodreads challenge along with the female authors I’ve read since January. I won’t be necessarily reviewing the books because I don’t want to spoil any of them on you, but I will be talking about how they affected me.
I set myself a goal of 80 non-work related books to read this year. If you’re on Goodreads why not come join me on my quest. How many have you pledged? Here is a link to my profile:
So far I’ve accomplished 52 of the total 80 which is 65%. As you can see from this very hi-tech screen grab below.
As part of this challenge, I want at least half of those 80 books to be from female authors. Although I have read many female authors in my time, I wanted to make a conscious effort to give equal support to both male and female authors this year.
The following 20 books I’m going to discuss are from female authors I’ve read this year. Seeing as I’ve already read 52 books and only 20 of them are female authors, I’ve some catching up to do.
Let me know in the comments below if you love/hate any of these books and why? Maybe one of these are on your ‘to be read’ list. Let’s have a chat. Ok let us not waste any more time, we begin.
Book number 1: ‘The Bell Jar’ – Sylvia Plath
As far back as secondary school (high school for my American friends), I’ve loved the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Her melancholy resonated with miserable teenage Jenni. At Christmas I received her only novel as a gift from my parents and proceeded to read it on the 1st of January. What an interesting way to start this year of books. Although it was a compelling read, I still feel her poetry is superior. It’s essential reading for anyone suffering from bipolar disorder, and although it’s not necessarily autobiographical, there are many parallels to Plath’s own life.
Book number 2: ‘Talking As Fast As I Can’ – Lauren Graham
I have mentioned before on this blog that I have an Audible account. It allowed me to listen to several of these books in the voice of their author. As a huge Gilmore Girls fan, I knew that this book would be best consumed audibly and I was correct. Graham does talk fast, but she keeps a sensible pace so you enjoy full extent of her funny anecdotal life.
Book number 3: ‘How To Be A Bawse’ – Lilly Singh
If you don’t know who Lilly Singh is, I’m really sorry. Here is her YouTube channel. Go ahead and subscribe. I’ll wait…
…done? Did you watch a video or two? I know she’s great, you’re welcome. Now back to her book. There are so many self-help/ motivational books out there. This is one of the good ones. Honestly, she not only deals with the ins and outs of being a Bawse, but she explicitly explains her experiences with depression.
You also get the added bonus of it not only being read in the author’s voice but with some surprise guests. It’s an inspirational read.
Book number 4: ‘Americanah’ – Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
I thought this novel was phenomenal. I was a fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her speech “We Should All Be Feminists,” so I wanted to give one of her novels a try. Although this one isn’t read by the author herself, it’s beautifully narrated by the talented Adjoa Andoh who brings the different accents to life. It was highly rated on Audible and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an exquisitely winding love story between Nigeria and the United States of America. Treat yourself with this yarn.
Book number 5: ‘Wishful Drinking’ – Carrie Fisher
When I heard the news that we lost Carrie Fisher, I was devastated. I am such a huge Star Wars fan, and she was one of the first examples of a strong female character that I remember. Along with being such a wonderful personality, she’s also an excellent writer. Her voice (both literary and physical) is so unique. She finds the funny in both the darkness and the light of life. I don’t even have to individually single out any of her books because they are all awesome.
Book number 6: ‘The Princess Diarist’ – Carrie Fisher
Speaking of Carrie Fisher did I mentioned that I love her? In this audiobook, you also get a section narrated by her daughter Billie Lourd.
Book number 7: ‘Furiously Happy’ – Jenny Lawson
This book has been on so many “10 books to read if you suffer from depression,” or “15 books by female authors,” or “books by online personalities,” that I had to bite the bullet and get it. While the cover is exceptionally attractive and draws you in even before you open the book, the contents are even crazier. It will make you laugh I promise, you’ll be so annoying you’ll want to read sections of it out loud to the person next to you (sorry Le Boo!). If you haven’t heard of her you can check her out here:
Rose McGowan has been such a controversial figure, and part of me really wonders how would she be received if she were a man. I am a fan of her hubris, I think she genuinely is brave when you account for all she’s been through. This book is an eye-opener and at times very distressing. The story of her struggle began way before her rape. She has been homeless, she grew up in a cult, and her home life, in general, was very tumultuous.
If you haven’t yet, read this book. Or listen to it on Audible. (I’m not sponsored by Audible by the way, I really wish I was though!)
Book number 9: ‘The Great Gasbag’ – Joy Behar
This book was a bit of light reading between books with a heavier subject. I’m a huge fan of The View which Joy Behar calls her home. Whoopi Goldberg is my Queen. Behar is the only remaining original panel member and she is not winding down. This book may be humorous, but she knows her stuff. Read it for a laugh or read it for the political facts. Either way, you’ll get what you came for.
Book number 10: ‘Repeal The 8th’ – Una Mullally
This was a tough read in the lead up to the referendum. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read my post about it:
This book is a collection of essays, personal stories, and poetry. It made me cry like a small child. It made me angry and see red. It also showed me the value of my vote. I was voting, not only for myself but for all the women that came before and all those who would come after. It was just downright powerful.
Book Number 11: ‘A Line Made By Walking’ – Sara Blaume
I’ve spoken about my mental illness here in the past 6 months and any story that continues the conversation is worth reading. This story is set in Ireland, following an artist struggling to cope with her mental health issues. The story has the added dimension of being both unique and uncomfortably familiar at the same time. The images painted by the author are still stuck in my mind, and the cover of this book drew me in inexplicably. It’s also nice to support Irish authors when possible.
Book Number 12: ‘The History of Bees’ – Maja Lunde
Heard of this book before? Always meant to give it a read? Well, get on it because it’s fantastic. If you’re like me and you’re worried about the bees (I’m not crazy they help grow our food), this book will reinforce you, while frightening those who are unaware of the dangers in a dwindling bee population.
An intermingling tale of three parts, Lunde manages to both connect people who have never met while demonstrating their utterly alien experiences. The narrators are all terribly flawed so that we feel at home with them, and by the end, you’ll be trembling with worry about our little fuzzy friends.
Book Number 13: ‘Swing Time’ – Zadie Smith
Although college and the books I read back then feels like many eons ago (I did only graduate from my Bachelors in 2010), I distinctly remember a novel called ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith. I hadn’t read anything else of hers since and I was in Waterstones one day perusing when this bright yellow book caught my eye. Sure enough, it was Zadie Smith. I’d always promised I would read more of her but never got around to it. I decided to buy it there and then, and she’s still got it.
Book Number 14: ‘Grace’s Guide’ – Grace Helbig
Grace Helbig has a lifestyle/comedy YouTube channel whose brand is socially awkward. Although her YouTube content appeals to the painfully bumbling teenager girl inside, I was actually disappointed by this book. She seemed to get this book deal when many YouTubers were also getting book deals because of their online clout with young audiences. The novelty of this novel falls short, and while you might get more of an insight into the person behind Grace Helbig, you will get nothing but recycled life advice from this. (Sorry Grace!)
Book Number 15: ‘No Seriously… I’m kidding’ – Ellen DeGeneres
This book is worth more than the €1 I paid for it in a second-hand shop. It was a lovely light companion for awhile between otherwise serious life times. Also, who doesn’t love Ellen?
Book Number 16: ‘Wicca Starter Kit’ – Lisa Chamberlain
This book, and the next were research for something I’m writing. I was surprised at the many misconceptions I had about Wicca, and I found these books useful in my own life. As someone who likes to experience slowly and deliberately, this book came through with many basic tools to survive in a modern world. When you feel as though you’re completely out of touch with nature and your own natural bodily rhythms these paradigms will help.
Book Number 17: ‘Witchcraft Theory & Practice’ – Ly De Angeles
As I said this book was also for research purposes. It turned out to be a bargain for the €1 I paid in a second-hand shop. (I love thrifting books). This book, unlike the last one, is more explicit in its explanations, recommendations, and value. Wicca and witchcraft have been attached to women for millennia. It is your due diligence as a feminist to understand it’s history.
Book Number 18: ‘Nefertiti’ – Joyce Tyldesley
Simply put Tyldesley has an insanely impressive repertoire of writings and books on the subject of ancient Egypt. Although she has books which are concerned with the civilization as a whole, she is also known for books like this one, which are biographies of those long dead. You’ll get the idea from the full title, ‘Nefertiti: Unlocking The Mystery Surrounding Egypt’s Most Famous And Beautiful Queen.‘ If you want to get an idea about what Nefertiti was like, outside of her famous Berlin Bust (pictured on the novel’s cover), you can read this book.
Book Number 19: ‘You Can’t Fix Stupid’ – Terry & Linda Jameson
This is another fun book, that I read in a day. I actually took it with me when I was getting one of my tattoos. I kept chuckling and moving much the chagrin of my tattoo artist. If you know anything about the Psychic Twins you’ll enjoy this book, if you don’t you’ll still enjoy it.
They recently started a YouTube channel in which they discuss many interesting things, while also collabing with many other established YouTubers. I enjoyed this book, and you really can’t fix stupid. Have a look at their channel:
Finally as with the other Joyce Tyldesley book on this list, ‘Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh.’ is an intense read. I credit the depth of the characterisation to Tyldesley’s extensive archaeological fieldwork experience.
I’m going to make everything really awkward for a bit so buckle up. Last week I was very ill. It was spent alternating between crying and feelings of numbness. Immediately after that week, I had 24 hours of pain in my abdomen. Thinking I was constipated or something (despite the large amount of fibre in my diet) I proceeded to eat plenty of beans and bowel friendly food.
I wake up on Tuesday morning and boom. Period in my pants. Less than 25 days since the beginning of my last one. So, in order to make myself feel better, I apply makeup and do my hair. Less than a year ago. This would not have been the case.
By the way, this blog post was not planned. I actually have my blog posts planned until pretty much 2019. (I haven’t necessarily written them, but there you go). Also if you don’t feel like reading all this today, I have a link to my Youtube video below explaining everything.
I want to talk about: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Now although I have not been diagnosed with this, it would appear that I have many of the symptoms, especially in regards to depression.
I’ve been keeping a journal just monitoring my general well-being and moods. It appears that the week before my period, my depression is heightened. I’ve always had some form of depression and was only recently diagnosed in 2016 / 2017. I will be bringing this evidence to a gynecologist as soon as I can.
When you think you’re doing everything right by eating well, maintaining healthy relationships, working in a job you love, you feel like depressive episodes shouldn’t be too frequent. For me though it’s always bubbling under the surface. The symptoms are as real as any other disease and there is no definitive cure. So if my period is making it worse, well then I’m going to try everything in my power to, A) find ways to alleviate the pain, and B) build a better internal dialogue with myself.
Women are often ridiculed, “Oh don’t get so offended, you must just have your period.” Which, besides deserving zero response, is not fair. If our internal workings are really affecting some of us so deeply, shouldn’t we at least be allowed talk about it like adults?
It’s been 15 years since the beginning of my period and the realisation of its effect on my life has only recently clicked. When I said earlier that less than a year ago, I wouldn’t have bothered with makeup and hair to make myself feel better, I’m being honest. The general feeling during my period was self-blame. You shouldn’t feel sad, just get on with things, stop being such a baby.
This is not ok. Remember, if you are suffering from depression, regardless of how it is caused or exacerbated, repeat this to yourself. “It’s not my fault.” That’s like saying your auto-immune disease is your fault or the symptoms from the flu is your fault. It’s crazy and it’s pointless.
If anything I’m going to continue to make people uncomfortable and talk period talk. Especially if I spend up to a week beforehand alternating between crying uncontrollably and feeling completely numb.
The mad part? A lot of friends and family will read this, who were with me last week, and they will be super confused because I didn’t let any of this out in front of them. Which is just exhausting, let me tell you. I’m always exhausted.
I was in the middle of writing a different blog for today, but I’ve given up because I have a massive headache. It feels like it’s slowly turning into a migraine. I don’t suffer from them often but I feel the weather may be causing it. It’s very ‘heavy’ outside. So basically the other blog, which was about anthropology and food, has been abandoned until next week. It’s pretty much done, but I have perfectionist tendencies, and therefore cannot focus my brain enough to finish it to my own imaginary standards.
It’s something I have slowly been trying to turn around, especially being in academia. There are only so many times you can proof-read something, change it around, and then find your way back to the same spot again. Perfection is an impossible goalpost, yet I continue to set these requirements for myself.
In fairness, me staring at this screen isn’t really helping the situation. I’m going to have to put the laptop away soon, otherwise, it’s going to make me nauseous. This has turned into a stream of consciousness now. I normally put my blog up the night before and schedule it for the next day so this will be a strange one for you to read.
So this is a very quick blog post today, the fact of which actually hurts my brain. Does that happen to you? Like the fact that I will barely proof-read this and then put it up on my blog irks me. As if I’m accountable to someone. I’m the person who is the boss, the big honcho. Ok, so that’s it. Leave me a comment if you’re a perfectionist and therefore your own worst enemy.