Bronte Month | 19 Thoughts When Reading: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall | Anne Bronte

Urgh. Longest title ever, amiright??

Also, to pre-warn you: this post is a little bit sweary. Not really sure why… maybe Classic lit just brings out the uncultured swine in me?

107.

1. Oh, I LOVE how the Victorian writers feel the need to give their novels purpose by pretending they’re letters to some vague acquaintance. Can you imagine writing a 480 page letter about your wife’s harrowing past to some bloke who’s mildly offended with you for not telling him all about your past? But that’s the context that we’re given, regardless.

2.  So I know I’m not supposed to like Helen yet, but I do. She’s opinionated and obstinate and spends her life actively avoiding people. She’s like me, but… grumpier, if possible.

3. Not going to lie, my favourite parts of Classic novels are the bits related to the Victorian social scene. I love me a little bit of gossip and a thinly veiled insult!

4. Ahhhhh, how cute is Arthur? He’s just a five year old who loves his mummy and some dogs. So sweet!

5. I do like the fact that the narrator/love interest is a bit of a knob. Markham’s no hero to rescue Helen: he’s just a well meaning but flawed man.

6. Oh look, here’s a misunderstanding to fuel an argument and create romantic tension, because that’s NEVER been used as a plot device in a Victorian novel before.

7. Now we have an abrupt switch to Helen’s pov… through Markham’s letter. So it’s Markham recounting Helen’s writing in her diary, before he even knew her. It’s all a little bizarre and jarring.

8. Shocker: young Helen is too headstrong to listen to her well meaning Aunt’s advice and marries the wrong guy. (Having said that, she had to choose between an old, ugly bore and a charming handsome ‘gentleman’. Neither option had a happily ever after for her.)

9. PB take note: if we are married you are never allowed to leave me for three months to go boozing and drugging and prostituting in London. That is just not acceptable behaviour. (Why was it okay then? Urgh, patriarchal society makes me sad).

10. How are the Victorian’s so blase about childbirth? They’re all like: ‘a year ago I was a newly wed. Now I am an experienced wife. My husband is a dick. Oh, and I popped out a baby. Probably could have mentioned that I was 9 months pregnant in the last chapter, but… no biggie.’

11. Oh noes, here’s the adultery. I hate adultery. Hate it even more when it’s essentially the man’s RIGHT to have a mistress, and the wife just has to put up with it.

12. Domestic abuse in the Victorian era is horrific. Genuinely not sure if I can continue reading this…

13. I’m also really loving the redemption theme that runs parallel to Helen’s story. Millicent’s husband turns out to be rather lovely, in the end.

14. F*ck, there’s an attempted rape scene. Were women even allowed to talk about such things back then? Anne Bronte was a brave lady, that’s for sure.

15. Actually, the escape scene was rather more simplistic than I’d expected. But they’re free, and that’s adorable.

16. Ummmm… why were Victorians such martyrs? Helen basically says: ‘you know my secret and you know that I’m in love with you, so never contact me again even though you are the main source of happiness in my life.’ Yeah. Logical.

17. HELEN, WHY YOU GO BACK TO HIM??????

18. Oh, and look: even on his deathbed, he’s STILL a twat. What a knobhead.

19. AWWWWW. It’s okay, guys. There’s a fairytale ending.

 

So this was actually kind of a cheat, because I half-read Tenant a few years ago (I got up to point 13 and then DID DNF). But I wasn’t blogging then, so I’ve never reviewed it, or finished it until now. I’m actually really pleased that I did pick it up again, because it’s probably been my favourite read of the month! Tenant is very easy to read, as Classics go; there’s an emotive subject and engaging characters and depravity and… yeah, it’s just really, really good. I’m actually quite surprised at how relevant it is today – no, women aren’t forced to marry now, and yes, they can file for divorce, but domestic abuse and alcoholism are things that we still hear about all the time.

Actually, I have a bit of an issue now, in that Anne Bronte maaaay have overtaken Charlotte as my fave author… hmmph.

 

Have you read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? Or will you? What were your thoughts?

Bronte Month | Worlds of Ink and Shadow | Lena Coakley

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Can we just talk about how excited I was when I stumbled upon this BEAUTIFUL hardback novel in a tiny independent book shop in a little local town?

It was like all the stars collided and all my favourites things happened at once. Fabulous book? Check. Supporting local businesses? Check. Cafe Nero Tiramisu Frappe in hand? Check.

That was a very good day. And that was BEFORE I realised that Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a YA novel based on the Bronte siblings. (PB told me off for squealing in a silent bookshop. My bad.)

Anyway, how cool is that? It’s fiction, but based on a family of writers that is my fave (and it maaaaay have had something to do with the idea conception for Bronte Month. Possibly.). I actually researched the Bronte family before reading WoI&S, just so I had some idea of what was real and what was fictionalised, and I hadn’t realised just how fascinating the siblings were.

Nor had I thought about how heartbreaking their story was, either. But more on that later!

As I was saying, WoI&S is fictionalised – I highly doubt Charlotte and Branwell ever literally crossed over into their imaginary worlds – but the theme of magic was beautifully woven throughout the plot. There was much talk of gytrashes (folklore which features again in Jane Eyre – remember her first encounter with Rochester among the mist?) and Old Tom, which did add an air of ancient wonder to the plot. (Also, it was lovely to read about some proper English myths. Even living here, you rarely hear about them now.) Having said that, there were a handful of scenes set about the family home which were fascinating – Lena Coakley dropped in historically accurate facts about the time and family life of the Brontes (for instance, though they were relatively poor, the girls all wore silk dresses because their father was too worried about cotton ones going up in flames), and I loved the interactions of the family.

Oh, and speaking of family, let’s talk Branwell. I actually think he was presented really well – as the only boy of the family, he was spoiled, but rather resented his sisters’ freedom to do as they wished – the males being expected to support the family, after all. His relationship with Charlotte was my favourite; she resented the fact that the art teacher that should by right be HERS was employed for him (Charlotte was a talented artist, as well as a writer); whereas he resented her talent. Branwell was just a funny character – peculiar, I mean, not haha. He loved his siblings and hated them, appreciated the fact that he was spoiled and yet still expected more, and ended up drinking himself into a stupor. I can’t say I liked Branwell, but he did add an interesting point of tension.

As for the others… well, Charlotte was my favourite. Sensible and creative, Coakley implied that Charlotte had the most power over their imagined world. Emily was simply depicted as romantic, and Anne was quiet – I feel like their characters weren’t given as much depth as Charlotte and Branwell’s, which was a shame because ANNE! (Still remaining to be convinced on Emily.)

Urgh, this review feels pretty crappy, to be honest. It’s getting long and I’m getting frustrated, so we’ll start rounding it up now: I really enjoyed Worlds of Ink and Shadow, but more for the focus on the Brontes familial context than for the plot. I feel like THIS review sums the plot up nicely – it’s just a little… confusing and bewilerding and even a little boring. It is nice to see the beginnings of characters who would later become infamous romantic heroes/antiheroes, and the little snippets that are recognisable from the Bronte stories were fun to find too. I’d recommend for anyone fascinated by Victorians or the Bronte family or historical-vaguely-magical novels, but I do feel like the plot leaves a little to be desired.

And I’ll leave you with the last sentence in the book:

‘The Reverend Patrick Bronte survived all six of his children.’

(HOW HEARTBREAKING IS THAT????)

So… would you read Worlds of Ink and Shadow

 

Bronte Month | Agnes Grey | Anne Bronte

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Ahhh, Anne Bronte. I always image Anne to be the sweet little good girl of the Bronte family (an idea helped by Worlds of Ink and Shadows, no doubt!), and the main character of Agnes Grey is EXACTLY THE SAME.

You might think that reading a story about a Victorian goody-two-shoes would be dull, and… to be honest, it kind of is – but in a GOOD WAY!

Hear me out: Agnes Grey is like a warm cuddle from a novel. It’s short and sweet, and a little bit of Cinderella fairytale-esque. It’s a quiet novel; not passionate like Wuthering Heights; not romantic like Jane Eyre. Agnes is undeniably an introvert (YAY MY KIND OF GAL!) who happens to be a governess due to hard times at home, but who is never all that fond of children. Apparently Anne heavily leant on her own experiences as a governess to depict Agnes’ terrible plight; but even though our narrator indicates she was tormented and tortured by the children/families she worked for, there’s really nothing that breaks the peace.

Oh, except there is a little talk about hurting/killing animals, so if that turns you off, maybe skip that bit. (You have to remember though, Anne/Agnes (they’re THE SAME PERSON, okay?) is clearly horrified by the instances of animal cruelty, but back in Victorian times even WOMEN were viewed as lowly creatures, let alone some baby sparrows, you know? It just demonstrates the mentality of the time.)

Anyway, there is a lovely little love story in amidst all of Agnes’ strife, and even the beginnings of an early love triangle. Poor Mr Weston has to choose between the lowly governess, and the high born flirt, and in a shock move reminiscent of a less-romantic Mr Rochester, guess who he picks? (Hint: our story has a happy ending. Just sayin’.)

Actually, the love story did break my heart a bit – when you consider that Agnes Grey is more or less an autobiographical version of Anne Bronte’s life, it does make her tragically youthful death even sadder. I feel like I KNOW Anne now, in a way that I don’t really have much of an idea about Charlotte or Emily. Anne was pious and moral and good. She was quiet and introverted, but hated to let people – especially children – walk all over her. She felt judged and persecuted and was terrified of criticism. She loved her family fiercely, and even dared to dream a happy, romantic ending for herself. That she never found that happily ever after is heartbreaking.

Let’s be honest: if you haven’t read a Classic before, you’re probably not going to want to start with Agnes Grey. BUT YOU SHOULD, because a) even if you’ve never heard of it, that doesn’t make it worth less; b) it’s actually super short and easy to read; and c) even if you don’t read it for the story, you should read it for the history. It’s FASCINATING – especially if you’re interested in early feminism or education of just Victorian families. It’s probably the most interesting and insightful primary source you’ll read, even if it is fictional. And then there’s the whole autobigraphical stance: Agnes Grey ensures that Anne, though the most obscure of the Bronte siblings today, will be remembered.

 

Have you read Agnes Grey? Or will you, after this? BECAUSE YOU SHOULD. Go download the ebook now. Go on, go. It’s free!!!!!!

Bronte Month | Reader, I Married Him | Tracy Chevalier (Part One)

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I was sooooo excited to read this, and to be honest, I’m not sure it met my expectations. I’d hoped for a whole book full of different subverted versions of Jane Eyre, and… this wasn’t really that. Yes, some of the stories were vaguely related to JE, but really the only common factor was marriage/weddings. But if you like a good wedding story, Reader, I Married Him is probably the book for you!

 

My Mother’s Wedding | Tessa Hadley

So this IS based on Jane Eyre, expect it kinda has a seventies hippie commune vibe. And I’m not sure whether Rochester was the mum or Patrick. And Bertha was a fourteen year-old. And… Jane was disappointing. I mean, yes, she was sensible like the original Jane, but in this version she was also backstabbing and full of hate and bad decisions. Not my fave.

Luxury Hour | Sarah Hall

I… did not like this. Because a) it wasn’t very Jane-y, and b) it reminded me of everything I hate about real grow up books. There were no speech marks!! WHY WOULD YOU MAKE THAT SORT OF GRAMMATICAL CHOICE? WHAT DOES IT ADD TO THE STORY of a swimmer-new-mum bumping into her ex-lover and having a real/possibly not real affair with him? To be honest, this just made me feel miserable.

Grace Poole Her Testimony | Helen Dunmore

For a start, I dislike this because WHERE IS THAT COMMA/COLON/GRAMMAR?? Tut. But mostly I disliked this because I really, REALLY wanted to love it. It’s Jane Eyre from Grace Poole’s PoV! There’s fascinating little snippets about Bertha enjoying cinnamon laudenam and stuff. Aaand… there’s also a revelation about Rochester and Grace’s shared past (hint: it ends with a baby). And THAT is where I stopped enjoying it. Not necessarily BECAUSE of the ‘revelation’ (although I do hate adultery and casual sex in stories), but because it feels poorly researched. Pretty sure Rochester had this whole thing about being too honourable to shag around while his wife wasn’t mad. Aaaaand he as in the West Indies. Anyway, Grace Poole was miserable and nasty and cruel and her only redeeming feature was her loyalty to Bertha.

Dangerous Dog | Kirsty Gunn

Eh, I didn’t HATE this one. For one thing, it was cheerful and had a happy ending. BUT the writing style didn’t suit me – the MC was undertaking a writing course and waxed lyrical about Jane Eyre‘s delights to random men and was just a little odd. Give me the real thing, pleeeeease!!!

To Hold | Joanna Briscoe

Oh, this was pretty miserable. And not really Jane Eyre-y, other than the fact that our MC was a teacher. She was also thrice-married, never to a man she loved (’cause she didn’t love a man, which was totally relevant and had lots to do with the plot and wasn’t at all included for shock factor), and a murderess. And raped, possibly as a child. I don’t know, it was one of those stories that are written in such deep metaphor I ave NO idea what is going on.

It’s a Man’s Life, Ladies | Jane Garden

This one was at least quite cheerful, but not at all Jane Eyre-y. It’s about a quirky little Grandma and her marriage to a man who was in love with the sea. It’s quite nice, as a short story set in another time, but it bored me, tbh.

Since First I Saw Your Face | Emma Donoghue

Okay, so this one had the atmosphere and timing of Jane Eyre, and almost felt like a ‘and they live unhappily ever after version’. Our Jane Eyre works in a convalescent home, and befriends an unhappily married woman. They begin a relationship. The husband forbids it. The end.

I am struggling with these lesbian versions of Jane Eyre, because that theme just doesn’t fit with the story for me. The relationships are alluded to so subtly (‘her head pillowed against my breast. A restless night, no sleep.’) and I get that that is an attempt to be ‘tasteful’ (I guess), but it just confuses me. I am not cut out to read modern adult novels, apparently.

I DID love the fact that this story was based on a real woman, who eventually got fed up of her marriage and moved her female lover into her home. Yay for early lesbianism!

Reader, I Married Him | Susan Hill

This… this really wasn’t Jane Eyre-y. I think it was a fictionalised version of the story of Wallis and Edward, and it was really quite sad. Having said that, none of the characters were presented sympathetically – the divorcee who attracted the King but didn’t want him; the King who wanted out of the crown and used her as an excuse; the relationship founded on secrecy and lies. It was fine, but where are my happy Jane Eyre romances????

The Mirror | Francine Prose

Okay, so this was Jane Eyre-y; it’s a continuation of Jane Eyre. But yet again, it’s not a happily ever after story. WHICH I DON’T GET! Why is everyone so convinced Rochester is an evil, manipulative man? By Victorian standards – which are the ones he should be judged by, in my mind – he’s not. Yes, you could say he manipulates Jane and Blanche, but does that mean he intends to drive his future wife insane too?

Nope. Give me back my romantic hero, please!

A Migrating Bird | Elif Shafak

Eh, mixed feelings about this one. I LOVE the setting in Turkey, and the fact that our MC is a female Muslim college student. And there IS a love story, although again, it’s not a happy one. It’s very one-sided – our MC is convinced that the exchange student loves her and will convert to Islam. She’s willing to defy her father with her love. But Gerard – who does NOT actually display loving behaviours – disagrees, so he’s the bad guy. Hmmm.

Behind the Mountain | Evie Wyld

I… did not get this AT ALL. It’s about yet another unhappily married woman, moved to Canada without her son. And she meets a woman who lives alone and… that’s it. Literally. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS HAS TO DO WITH JANE EYRE!! Surely JE is about more than a horrible marriage?

 

So far, I’m not terribly impressed… tell me, would you read/be interested in any of these short stories? And come back for part two… which will be posted when I get around to finishing Reader, I Married Him!

Bronte Month | Re-read Review: Jane Eyre | Charlotte Bronte

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The First Read

The Circumstances: I was seventeen years old, and studying English, history and geography at college. I was juuuuust stating to get into classics – watching an adaptation of Little Dorrit made me read the book, and then the bug bit! My English teacher suggested I’d like Jane Eyre, so I picked up a copy and spent all my lonely lunchtimes in the library reading it. (Yeah, I literally had no friends.)

The Reaction: Jane Eyre quickly became my favourite novel OF ALL TIME. I fell head over heels for Jane; a misunderstood, quiet child with no friends and aspirations to teach (i.e. a Victorian me). I actually felt quiet jealous of her – governessing sounds like a lovely job, and I’m still not over the fact that I’m not a Victorian. And then there was her and Rochester. A romance based on unattractiveness and intelligence seemed PERFECT for little ol’ friendless (and therefore boyfriendless) me. Who cares about some murderess living in the attic when you can have true love with a man twice your age, right?

The Verdict: I wanted to BE Jane Eyre. That is how much I adored this book.

 

The Re-Read

The Circumstances: Now 23 years old (OLD being the operative word); in a full time job and about to by a house with my long term boyfriend. I AM A REAL LIFE GROWN UP NOW!!!

The Reaction: Uhhhh… not as favourable as I’d imagined. This was my fifth re-read of Jane Eyre, but the first for several years, and while I was excited to read it, it didn’t qute live up to my expectations. Which is ridiculous, right, because I know the story inside out and back to front, so it’s not like there were any particularly high hopes… I think though, some of my favourite scenes left me feeling a bit disappointed – I don’t remember the fire scene being so abrupt; or the charades scene being so tedious; or the St John section being so heartless! And Rochester rather let me down… his declarations of love didn’t feel romantic, this time around – they kind of felt lust-driven, which actually made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe my ideas of love and romance have changed in the past six years (no doubt about it!), but I kind of think that Edward and Jane DON’T actually make a great match… I don’t know.

The Verdict: I think I will always love Jane Eyre, and it will forever be in my top five favourite novels. BUT… I didn’t love the story quite so much this time – I guess I’ve grown up a bit – and most of the pleasure I got from reading Jane Eyre was derived from REMEMBERING reading Jane Eyre. As I said, it’s still one of my favourites, and Charlotte Bronte is still my favourite author (or is it Victor Hugo? Or Alexandre Dumas? IDK…), but this re-read was the first one where I enjoyed a novel because of nostalgia.

 

Have you read Jane Eyre? What did you think – did you fall in love with Victorian romantic ideals like cute little innocent teenager Beth, or did you take it all with a pinch of salt like grown up Beth?

I’m Going to Camp!!! (And Introducing: Bronte Month)

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Yeah yeah yeah!!!

If you’ve been following me on Goodreads (which you are in no way obliged to do, ’cause I have absolutely no real understanding of how to use Goodreads properly), you may have noticed a few Classic entries to my reading log thing. I’ve rekindled my love of Classics, and feel like taking a break from posting about my usual YA nonsense…. so I henceforth declare July to be Bronte (and Camp NaNo) month on TQP. YAAAAY!

While I’m beavering away at Camp, I’ve created you a whole heap of posts dedicated to my favourite of all the English Victorian authors: Charlotte Bronte (and, I suppose, her sisters Anne and Emily).

To be honest, I have no idea WHY I decided to focus on the Brontes, other than because Charlotte wrote my favouritest of all the books, Jane Eyre. You know how some people love Austen, and some wax lyrical over Dickens, and some obsess over Collins (yeah, no one else seems to obsess over Wilkie Collins like me, either… maybe we’ll have a Collins week/month one day??); I’m a Bronte girl. To the extent that I’d call any female children than I may have in the future Lucy Jane (after Lucy Snowe and Jane Eyre); or Charlotte Victoria (after Charlotte Bronte and Queen Victoria herself!). Yeah, I’m waffling, I know.

So ummmm… enjoy. If you hate classics, a) you should at least read Jane Eyre; and b) you can just ignore me for the rest of July. I’ll probably be ignoring me too.

Anyway, here comes Bronte month!!

June Round Up

june 2016

Read 6 Classics (12/12). | Made muffins. | Read 3 retellings (7/10). | Wrote spine poetry. | Tried 12 Lush products. | Made another YA inspired dessert. | I don’t usually include updates on this one, because it’s enormous, but this month I’ve really made an effort to make recipes from more of my cookbooks, and I’m so pleased with how it’s going! (Cookbooks: 28/46). | Made a mug cookie! | Reached 500 instagram followers. | Walked the dog. | Spent (part of) an afternoon drafting blogposts in a cafe. | Hula hooped! | Dyed my hair. | Had a picnic! | Invested in new underwear. | Made strawberry ice cream. | Picked berries and made jam. | Wrote blackout poetry. | Made a raw dessert. | Made salad in a jar. | Took new headshots. |

Goals Achieved: 19 (93/366)

Urgh, still lagging behind…

I’m a lot more hopeful for July though – work should quieten down a little, and hopefully the house stress will be over, and the army stress is done for now – there’s not really much excuse for not achieving much! I’m hoping to complete Camp NaNo and finish my novel in July; as well as trying out all of my cookbooks. I’m also planning to get back on the exercise wagon, and I’ll be attempting to beat my number of pages on Goodreads. I’m in the mood for a few longer term goals too, so I’ll be trying to know out some of those 30 day challenges… wish me luck!

 

 

Blog Posts I Have Been OBSESSED with in June

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Most of them weren’t even published in June. OH WELL!! (Better late than never, I guess…)

 

Eva’s post on how to finish your first novel has inspired me to finish my mermaid slasher story (yes, new followers, for reals) in Camp NaNo next month. Yaaay! Only six months after it was SUPPOSED to be finished…

Also, this writing itinerary is my game plan for Camp NaNo success.

Love this 11p Vegan Peanut Butter Granola. I added dark chocolate chips to mine!

Amber has social media guilt. Me too, Amber, me too.

Amy’s road trip essentials have made me DESPERATE to plan my own road trip… hopefully to Scotland???

Also Amy: things you’ll only understand if Harry Potter is your life.

I’m so excited about (another) Amy’s new house! We’re currently arranging move in dates (it’s looking like the beginning of July), so I can totally understand her enthusiasm!

I ADORED Elizabeth’s Giselle inspired look – I’m planning an Eilonwy Disneybound soon, so this is great inspiration!

I’ve been trying to be more positive this month, so Bethany’s 15 things to be happy about list came at just the right time!

Sophie’s guide to living with childlike wonder was such a lovely read!

YES to Hannah’s thoughts on insta-fied relationships. Real relationships are hard work guys – it’s less about surprise bunches of flowers and more about 3am phone calls because your boyfriend is drunk at some festival and decides he misses you. (Still kinda cute though, so I forgave him!)

26/52

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HALF WAY THROUGH 2016!!!

1. Most important thing first: my boy is joining the army. He had his interview this week, and although he didn’t directly make it on to his officer’s course, he has been offered a 12 week leadership course to complete BEFORE his officer’s course. It’s all very complicated, but the long and the short of it is a) he’s leaving in September to go and train, and b) it’ll be a 56 week regime, and c) I’m so proud but nervous.

ALL THE EMOTIONS!!!

2. Other fun things: I bought some old-fashioned weighing scales and weights, so I can feel like a Victorian when I bake. We’ve had lots of dates to make up for the fact that PB is away ALL THE TIME at the moment. I bought two books because it’s National Bookshop week. We baked far too many cookies. I managed half a day of a vegan detox before giving up.

3. Books read: Passenger; These Shallow Graves and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’m really into my Classics at the moment – more so than I’m interested in YA, anyway… so maybe look out for a few more classic literature posts soon!

Ummm… that’s about it. How was your week?

Recommendations | Leaving School: A Reading List

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It’s that time of year again (in Britain, at least). Millions of teens are having their last few weeks at school. Soon they’ll go off to college, or university, or… not.

It’s a stressful time. I’ve been there. I went through university interviews and exams and all of the necessary pressures I needed to get on to my teaching course; but didn’t actually REALISE I was going to uni until mid-August. And then I refused to leave the house for three weeks. (But that’s another story.)

I don’t know. This post might be useless to you. But if there are any of you who are worried/nervous/scared to try something new/unsure of where to go next in life, here are some books I would prescribe for you.

No, they won’t change your life. But maybe they’ll ignite your excitement, or help you feel like someone else is feeling the same.

 

For the one who doesn’t know if univeristy is right for them: Radio Silence | Alice Oseman

Okay, so I didn’t LOVE the plot or characters of this, but I DID adore the whole ‘you-don’t-have-to-go-to-uni-just-because-you’re-smart’ aspect. That was an area that I really sympathised with Frances for, ’cause I’ve been there. University isn’t a massive deal in England any more, it’s more of an expectation for a lot of people. And some people get steam rolled into it, which isn’t great. Anyway, what I’m saying (and Alice Oseman writes more elegantly) is that there are other options out there that might suit you better. Have the confidence to research them if you have ANY doubts about whether or not uni is right for you.

For the perfectionist: Extraordinary Means | Robyn Schneider

Yes, this is a love story set in a slightly dystopic world rife with tuberculosis. But at it’s core, it’s really the story of an overachieving lad learning to stop pressuring himself, and actually have some fun. I’m actually really sad that I didn’t discover this until AFTER I was through with education, ’cause it might have encouraged me to stop working myself to death to get my first class degree, and actually enjoy the experience of university. It’s supposed to be a time for memories, right? Well, for me, all I remember about those three years was work. If I had my time again, I’d try out new things and explore a little more. If you struggle with perfectionism, Extraordinary Means might just motivate you to shake things up and live a little.

For the anxious: Fangirl | Rainbow Rowell

Hah, it’s basically on every list I’ve ever written ever. But for those of you who are afraid of university, Fangirl could be an amazing comfort. I won’t lie, my university experience was creepily similar to Cath’s first few weeks, except it lasted for three years. But again, in Fangirl, Cath lets go of some things and starts to enjoy life more. Also, if you’re considering any sort of creative writing degree, Fangirl will push you into it. Just saying.

For the un-excited: Emmy & Oliver | Robin Benway

Urgh, I love this book. It’s so cute and happy and normal! Again, Emmy & Oliver doesn’t exactly focus on school/university, but it does encourage you to start making decisions for yourself. Emmy was expected to go to community college by her friends and parents, but decided that that wasn’t the life she wanted, so she got out and applied to universities and MADE her life her own. It’s a really encouraging, motivating read, that never fails to make me feel excited for the future!

(Despite the fact that university is in my past and was not so great and all that. BUT YOUR EXPERIENCE COULD BE AMAZING, IF YOU LET IT!!)

For the one who wants to be prepared: The Historian | Elizabeth Kostova

Ooooh, a wild card. I absolutely LOVE The Historian – a rewrite of Dracula from an almost academic perspective: it’s creepy and atmospheric and will fill you with wanderlust and the desire to LEARN. It’s not the easiest read, definitely a grown up book; but for me, that’s a good thing. Because a) it’ll get you into the mindset of reading for uni (because all those research papers ain’t fun), and b) it’s almost a semi-classic, and what’s more fun than that? Anyway, I cannot read this and NOT be inspired to start studying again.

 

So. Hands up who’s leaving school this year? (You young whippersnappers, you! *shakes fist*) Read any of these? Do you plan to? 

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