Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
~Andrea~

Andrea's reading in 2018

Recommended Posts

Talking of finding/making time to read - I read a good article recently about Laura Vanderkaam ( who writes Time Management books ) - she recommends spending a week writing down what you do all day, and finding  time which you can repurpose, eg, for reading ( it did make me think of quite how much time I can spend playing spider solitaire... :ph34r: ) I can copy the article if you fancy reading it ( it was on the Times site, which has a paywall ). :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Little Pixie said:

Talking of finding/making time to read - I read a good article recently about Laura Vanderkaam ( who writes Time Management books ) - she recommends spending a week writing down what you do all day, and finding  time which you can repurpose, eg, for reading ( it did make me think of quite how much time I can spend playing spider solitaire... :ph34r: ) I can copy the article if you fancy reading it ( it was on the Times site, which has a paywall ). :)

 

Oh yes please Pixie.Thank you! Though I dread to think what I'd find out about how I spend my time :lurker:. Doing not very much I expect - especially in this heat. It's making me very lazy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, you’re really not that busy

Frantic and overstretched? Maybe you’re misusing your waking hours, time expert Laura Vanderkam explains

Julia Llewellyn Smith

July 24 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Nearly all of us overestimate the amount of time we devote to work and chores

Is life crazy? Manic? Do you have no idea where the time goes? In olden times, when you asked how friends were, they would smile and say: “Fine, thanks.” Yet in the past few years, the customary response has become a tight-lipped: “Frantic!”

Laura Vanderkam, the author of five books about time-management, was sceptical that we all were as swamped as we claimed. “People always complain about how they never have enough time for themselves,” says Vanderkam, 39, who has a pleasingly dry take on life, “but I wasn’t so sure. They still were able to recall in detail what happened in the most recent Big Bang Theory.”

Three years ago Vanderkam had good reason to bewail how time-poor she was. She had just given birth to her fourth child (the three others were under ten) and was about to publish her fifth book. She and her husband, who works for a big management consultancy, were frequently travelling for work.

Still wondering if life was really as hectic as she perceived it, Vanderkam decided to test her schedule by minutely recording how she spent every half-hour of the 8,784 hours that made up that leap year. “I was hoping my time logs would give me some perspective and work out some ways of making things easier for myself,” she says.

Yet at the end of the year, her immaculate spreadsheets didn’t reveal at all what she had expected. “The stories I’d told myself about how my time was swallowed up weren’t all actually true,” she says from her home outside Philadelphia in the US. The children having just been put in childcare or on the school bus, she has carved out an hour to talk to me before the day’s other demands kick in. “Life wasn’t actually as crazy as I thought it was.”

The year had certainly been challenging, featuring many sleepless nights with the baby before catching a dawn flight, but it wasn’t all misery. Vanderkam had also found time for eight massages and had several dinners with friends.

While she was convinced that she was severely sleep-deprived, the logs proved that she had in fact averaged 7 hours 24 minutes’ kip a night, having compensated for the bad nights by napping or going to bed early. Although she had viewed her waking life as an endless drudge of nappy-changing and ferrying children to matches, in fact she spent only nine hours a week on housework and errands, notably less than the average mother. “My life wasn’t the grind I’d imagined,” she says.

After continuing to log the subsequent — slightly less gruelling — 12 months, Vanderkam discovered that even the time she and her husband had devoted to “intimate encounters” was identical from one year to the next. “Apparently this was the level of intimacy that felt right, or at least felt doable while the children were distracted by video games,” she writes.

Overall, Vanderkam realised that — like nearly all of us — she had long been overestimating the amount of time devoted to work and chores, while underestimating her leisure time. “There are 168 hours in a week, so if you’re working 40 hours and sleeping 8 hours a night that leaves 72 hours for other things, which is a lot more time than you’re actually working,” she says. “People say it doesn’t feel that way at all, but the maths is there. People will argue, ‘I work more than that!’ I say, ‘Well, we’re still only at 45 hours.’ ”

It’s partly because we tend to allocate higher numbers to tasks with negative associations than to fun activities, but partly it comes down to the importance that our society places on being busy. “People like to walk around with these bragging rights about how important we are,” Vanderkam says.

Like many of us, despite having written bestsellers such as What Successful People Do Before Breakfast and I Know How She Does It — respectively analysing the secrets of high achievers and “juggling” executive mothers — Vanderkam had also fallen into the trap of sabotaging her time by misusing it. Take the example of reading: on paper she had clocked up a theoretically impressive 327 hours, but in practice this consisted almost entirely of browsing gossip magazines. “I could have made it through War and Peace,” she says ruefully.

Confronted by such stark evidence, Vanderkam was compelled to make changes, adding the Kindle app to her phone to enable her to read more books (although she admits she still aimlessly scrolls through social media during the hours she spends in her “terror” toddler’s bedroom trying to get him to sleep), downloading TED talks to educate her during the seven weekly hours spent driving children to activities and doing push-ups while heating something in the microwave.

“My diaries made it clear I couldn’t say I don’t have time for exercise, so I started running every day. I joined a choir because I could see I wasn’t really doing anything of consequence on the evenings they rehearsed,” she says.

Vanderkam has just published her sixth book, Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, showing us all how to — in the words of Kipling — “fill the unforgiving minute/ With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”. Her point is that while time always objectively passes at the same rate, we can trick our brains into perceiving it as running slowly.

Her advice on how to do this (including keeping time logs, although maybe for a week rather than years) comes from nuggets gleaned from yet more time diaries, in this case of 900 people all of whom worked more than 30 hours a week and had children aged under 18 living at home. Vanderkam asked them to log every hour of a Monday evening in March last year.

She found that the people with the highest “time-perception scores”, in other words people who felt the most relaxed about their time (although in reality they had just as much on their plates as the people with the lowest time perceptions) shared certain traits.

The first was such people had the most organised schedules. “People who are good with time only commit to things they absolutely know they can do and know how long they will take, so when they’re doing them, they do them properly because they’re not distracted,” Vanderkam says.

These chilled-out beings had also instinctively grasped that “to fill the unforgiving minute” as Kipling advised you need to actively create happy memories. “The reason time seems to move faster as we get older is because a lot of time we spend is on routine stuff that is not memorable and such time becomes a blur both when it’s happening and in retrospect,” Vanderkam says.

“Anticipating a visit to a beautiful park can warm up your horrible commutes for the week before and memories of that visit can cheer you on a dark November day six months later, and both of those will make the present moment seem to last longer.”

That’s all very well, but, when the morning of that park visit arrives — involving perhaps a bus ride, packing a picnic, persuading grumpy children to abandon their Xboxes — it can suddenly seem far less enticing. This is why Vanderkam insists we live by the motto “plan it in, do it anyway”. “It’s very likely on the day of that outing your experiencing self, that lives in the moment, will have a little temper tantrum, thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got all these emails to do, it’s going to be hot.’ But you will be fine once you get moving and your remembering self will be so pleased you did it.”

Inevitably, such precious memories don’t involve evenings scrolling through pictures of other people’s holidays on Instagram. Vanderkam’s research showed that the people who felt they had the least time were also those who checked their phones the most frequently.

In contrast, the people who checked their phones least were also the least stressed, while those who devoted the most time to activities such as meditation were far calmer than those whose evenings (like mine) vanished into a vortex of lazy online shopping, cute animal videos and First Dates re-runs.

“The problem with constantly looking at emails or social media is it tends not to be in concentrated, mindful chunks, it’s something we slip into while we’re also doing something else, but then it chops our leisure time into chunks, so it no longer feels rejuvenating,” she explains.

The calmest people had also realised that to make the most of our time we can’t be tightwads: in other words we need to concentrate on what we do best and, if necessary, splash the cash on outsourcing anything else.

“Obviously, it’s annoying when we see those mugs that say ‘You Have the Same Number of Hours in the Day as Beyoncé’ because she can afford so much more help than the rest of us, but I don’t think the process is automatic for anyone,” Vanderkam says. “JK Rowling’s talked about how she had a lightbulb moment when she was having a crazy day trying to finish Deathly Hallows with the kids making a noise and the window cleaner coming and she suddenly realised she could decamp to a hotel. It took her six bestselling books and $1 billion to realise her hours should be spent doing what only she could do. None of us is born with an operating manual for life.”

Vanderkam also takes a hard line on perfectionists, who waste hours dithering about the best brand of washing-up liquid to buy or (in my case) the perfect light to hang over the kitchen island. “I divide people into maximisers, who want the absolute best option and satisficers, who have a set of criteria and go for the first option that clears the bar,” she says. “The former sounds like such a positive trait — no one’s going to build a career as a motivational speaker by shouting, ‘I settle!’ But research proves the second group are happier because they don’t waste time ruminating over choices and expectations. Recently, we renovated a couple of rooms and had to choose paint colours. I was amazed at the million shades of white out there and could have spent months choosing one, but I recognised I was never going to find the best one, that the shade I chose wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.”

I’m inspired. I’m going to stop browsing Made.com’s lighting selection and book theatre tickets, stately home visits and gym assessments. But first I need to check Zara’s autumn stock, fresh in. And, oh, look at this adorable YouTube puppy video!

 

:)  Hope it helps - it certainly made me think about how I use my time. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting article.  What's not mentioned is when in the day things take up one's time, and how that influences perceptions.  A reason why work often feels more is that it's usually taking up the prime time of day, whilst the time not spent working is in the evenings when one is not at one's best!  (I know this time pattern is not true of everybody)   Thus, on the days when I read in the mornings, I get through much more in a given amount of time than when reading in the evening, the content sticks in the mind better, and the time spent reading feels more, even if it's just the same.

 

And I so agree with her comment about time consumed scrolling through Instagram etc!

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 25.7.2018 at 2:34 PM, ~Andrea~ said:

Thanks! I'm going to make 15 pages per day my new rule and set deadlines on all my reads from now on! Re the weather, I'm longing for it to cool down now! :snowsign:

 

:lol:   Yes, bring in the snow!! :lol:  I really like how you're making such progress with your reading and more importantly, how you are enjoying the whole thing! :smile2: It's inspiring!

 

Little Pixie, thanks for the article!  I found it very enlightening, and have now started keeping record of what I do all day. I hope to get more productive :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, ~Andrea~ said:

Thanks Pixie! I haven't read it properly yet but it looks good.

 

I need to make time first :lol:

:giggle2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

51c-BzODgkL._AC_US218_.jpg

 

Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb

 

Nevare Burvelle is the second son of a Gernian noble and as such is destined for life in the military. His father, himself a second son and a soldier, promoted to noble status by the king, is concerned that Nevare doesn't have what it takes. He sends him off for survival training with a warrior of the Kidona tribe, a traditional enemy of the civilised Gernians and regarded as savages by them. His father hadn't bargained on the strange tribal magic Nevare would encounter there that leave his son changed and conflicted about where his loyalties truly lie. When Nevare eventually goes to military academy, he has to battle not only the prejudices and hostility of the old aristocracy who don't take kindly to the new nobles, but also the tribal magic within as it vies for dominance in the young soldier.

 

I'd heard that this was a slow trilogy so I was expecting to struggle with this, however I found it an easy and engaging read with plenty of action to keep me interested. It's set in an entirely different world to Hobb's other trilogies which all have overlapping places, characters and themes. It's perhaps not as good as some of her other stuff, but I still enjoyed reading it. Then again I am a bit of a die hard fan so maybe it's just me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only heard good things about Robin Hobb but I've never read anything by her. 'Shaman's Crossing' sounds good but, if you didn't think it was her best, what would you say is a good book to start on? I really like the idea of the different trilogies overlapping too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Hayley said:

I've only heard good things about Robin Hobb but I've never read anything by her. 'Shaman's Crossing' sounds good but, if you didn't think it was her best, what would you say is a good book to start on? I really like the idea of the different trilogies overlapping too!

 

Definitely the Farseer trilogy Hayley. It's the first chronologically of 4 trilogies (plus other books) all set in the same world. The first book is Assassin's Apprentice. I hope you get to read it (and love it!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

51AvHc8Nm7L._AC_US218_.jpg

 

Conclave by Robert Harris

 

The Pope is dead, which means a new pope must be elected quickly and in absolute secrecy. Over a hundred cardinals from around the world must spend 72 hours confined to vatican city amidst the ambition and rivalry of the frontrunners.

 

I really enjoyed reading this. I didn't expect to. I didn't really know what to expect and actually as I started reading it, for at least 50 pages or so, I thought I wouldn't like it at all. I expected it to be dull and found it a slow start. However as the story unfolded I became thoroughly absorbed. The details of the world were very well researched and fascinating and as I got to know the characters and the factions, each round of voting became nail-biting. As I raced towards the end I thought this was going to be a real favourite of the year. Sadly I hated the ending and it ruined the book for me. So while I wanted to love this book, and almost did, I was ultimately disappointed.

 

Edited by ~Andrea~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed Conclave when I read it as well and although I thought the ending was weak I didn’t hate it as much as you did. Have you read any other Robert Harris? If not, I highly recommend the Cicero trilogy.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No I haven't. I would like to though, as I very much enjoyed reading this one, apart from the ending of course. (I just found it a let down after being so thoroughly hooked.)

 

Thank you I'll check out the Cicero trilogy. I've heard good things about his Roman historical novels!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

51kKVVGPdvL._AC_US160_.jpg

 

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

 

From Amazon: When Robbie Bishop, star midfielder for the Bradfield Vics, is poisoned by a rare and deadly toxin, profiler Dr Tony Hill and trusted colleague DCI Carol Jordan have their work cut out for them. Robbie was adored, so the public want answers – but the answers aren't coming, and trails are running cold. Then a bomb explodes in the football stadium, causing massive casualties – and another man dies from poisoning. Is there a link between the cases? And what are the motives for these crimes? The clock is ticking for Tony and Carol – and the death toll keeps rising…

 

I picked this up because I really enjoyed Wire in the Blood on TV and this is from the same series. I enjoyed reading it and was engaged and interested in the story, but I didn't find the characters other the two main ones very interesting. They all seemed to merge into each other and I couldn't tell them apart. Like most detective novels I've read, I enjoyed it well enough but it didn't really stay with me. Perhaps whodunnits just aren't really my thing. I think many detective novels are pretty formulaic and I suppose that's the problem I had with this one. If you know what to expect though you'd probably find this enjoyable enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

51So6h2Y7FL._AC_US218_.jpg

 

Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

 

This is book two of the Soldier Son trilogy. The Speck plague has devastated the city of Old Thares and the Cavalla training academy. Nevare Burvelle, who has made a remarkable recovery from the plague makes his way home for his brother's wedding, only to find a cool welcome awaits. Not only was he infected with the plague, he has also been infected by Speck magic, which leads to uncomfortable side-effects which only exacerbate his problems at home and make him unfit to serve in the army. Eventually he heads East, to the only regiment which will probably have him, and to the land of the Specks themselves.

 

Overall I enjoyed reading this but I did find it very slow, especially the second half. As usual I enjoy the characters and worlds that Robin Hobb creates however I have no idea why this book needed to be over 800 pages long. There aren't enough dramatic scenes and much of the second half of the book seems to focus on the main character's introspection which I found quite repetitive and somewhat irritating. I did wonder if she was writing to a publisher-set page count target as well as a deadline. I didn't love the main character either, I kept shaking my head at his apparent dullness. The reader is given much more insight than the protagonist, and it makes him comes across as stupid at times. The subject matter is also a little odd for me. The magic in this book is somewhat sexual and sensual and there are a few sex scenes which I just found a bit tedious and jarring after a while. So it's not her best book, but I still found it strangely readable and want to know what happens next. So I will be reading the third book, however from what I have heard, I wont get my hopes up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


51jZUbCRwgL._AC_US218_.jpg

 

The Baby Laundry for Unmarried Mothers by Angela Patrick and Lynne Barrett-Lee

 

This is the true story of Angela Patrick, who gets pregnant at 19 in the sixties. Coming from a strict Catholic family, and being under the age of 21, she is forced to have the baby in secret and give it up for adoption.

 

This book is in three parts, the first part details her time at the harsh convent, which is more like a Victorian workhouse. This was the hardest part to read as it is so shocking and upsetting. I found it hard to believe the attitudes of society at the time, as well as the harshness of the life at the convent, in what feels like such recent history. Parts two and three cover her life afterwards and were so much easier to read I raced through them in one sitting. It's a haunting story, and even though it ha such a dark beginning, it's not all doom and gloom and there is a lot of positivity in it too. It was a fascinating read (if harrowing at times) and I'm glad I read it, and would  definitely recommend it.

 

Spoiler

One thing I really liked was the way the Angela maintained her integrity, and found forgiveness for those who had hurt her, and managed to hold on to her faith even though her experiences could have been enough to turn her totally against it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, ~Andrea~ said:


51jZUbCRwgL._AC_US218_.jpg

 

The Baby Laundry for Unmarried Mothers by Angela Patrick and Lynne Barrett-Lee

 

This is the true story of Angela Patrick, who gets pregnant at 19 in the sixties. Coming from a strict Catholic family, and being under the age of 21, she is forced to have the baby in secret and give it up for adoption.

 

This book is in three parts, the first part details her time at the harsh convent, which is more like a Victorian workhouse. This was the hardest part to read as it is so shocking and upsetting. I found it hard to believe the attitudes of society at the time, as well as the harshness of the life at the convent, in what feels like such recent history. Parts two and three cover her life afterwards and were so much easier to read I raced through them in one sitting. It's a haunting story, and even though it ha such a dark beginning, it's not all doom and gloom and there is a lot of positivity in it too. It was a fascinating read (if harrowing at times) and I'm glad I read it, and would  definitely recommend it.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

One thing I really liked was the way the Angela maintained her integrity, and found forgiveness for those who had hurt her, and managed to hold on to her faith even though her experiences could have been enough to turn her totally against it.

 

 

I was a child/teenager in the 60's and like you find it hard to believe people were so judgemental then. It would have been very difficult for solo mum's to keep their babies without the support of their families and they would have been the target of a lot of gossip and even ostracism. I can't imagine how terribly painful it must have been to be forced to give a baby up.

Where was she from, Andrea? Sounds a very interesting book to read, albeit heartbreaking at times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, poppy said:

 

I was a child/teenager in the 60's and like you find it hard to believe people were so judgemental then. It would have been very difficult for solo mum's to keep their babies without the support of their families and they would have been the target of a lot of gossip and even ostracism. I can't imagine how terribly painful it must have been to be forced to give a baby up.

Where was she from, Andrea? Sounds a very interesting book to read, albeit heartbreaking at times.

 

She was living in or near London, England, but her family was from Ireland and were strict Catholics. It's amazing how times and attitudes have changed. I would definitely recommend it. It was so interesting, and really well written.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

51A-slo9HSL._AC_US218_.jpg

 

Locke and Key - Welcome to Lovecraft - Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

 

Synopsis from Amazon: "Locke & Key" tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them, and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all!

 

I had this for Christmas. I've been wanting to get into graphic novels for a while, as for some reason, lately I've just been fancying a comic book format. I think sometimes I want a lighter read, with a bit of a different experience. I found this series recommended on here in the graphic novels thread. I enjoyed it, however I didn't realize it was going to be quite so dark and violent. I think I will read some more of them but I'm still on the lookout for some graphic novels I can escape into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×