I’ve been staring at this page for so long that I no longer know where to begin. No, that’s not true. I’ve never known where to start, hence all the staring.
World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day have been and gone. Both of which would have been good times to write about this, but I couldn’t find the words because it’s not my story to tell. Except it is. At least parts of it anyway.
The disturbed sleep, the dreams about organising a funeral, the fear and panic whenever the phone rings and it takes a couple of seconds for the caller ID to register who is calling. Those are all my stories to tell. They’re not the beginning, but they’re what I’ve been left with.
In keeping with my previous yearly round-ups, most of the books I read were written by women. What started as a conscious effort has become second nature. I rated more books five stars on Goodreads (you can find me here) this year, than the previous two combined. I’ve been more selective with my choices, especially when it comes to advance reader copies, which explains it. I read less crime fiction than I have in a long time, which is something I’ll be writing about soon.
Some of these books made me laugh. Some made me cry. Some managed to do both. They all made me think. They all made me want to seek out people who had read them, so we could discuss the stories at length.
2017 was a strange old year. The world continued to come apart at the seams, my health, both mental and physical, wasn’t great (again) which affected my writing and I spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to figure out how, y’know, to do life. It wasn’t all bad, mind; I wrote some stuff I am proud of, dedicated even more time to activism and met some brilliant people.
When I first wrote about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder my inboxes were flooded, by friends and acquaintances, with recommendations for books I just had to read.
I can understand why, reading about something we are experiencing is almost instinctual for some people. I am one of those people. Many of the books people recommended were already on my radar. Some were already on my Kindle. Some had a bigger impact on me than others. All taught me something about bipolar disorder or myself. The really good ones did both.
Some Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) included. They’re marked with an *. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
It has been a ridiculously long time since I did a monthly reading wrap-up. And since I didn’t read these in the same month, this technically isn’t one of those blog posts either. Consider it, instead, the one with the quick-fire reviews of some of the books I’ve read this year.
I’m in a funk, have been for a while. It’s annoying, but it’ll pass. Here’s the thing about living with a mental illness though, it makes being in a funk stressful. The second guessing, the over-thinking, the ever watchful eye checking to see if my mood has turned into something other than a run of the mill funk. When is a funk no longer a funk? At what point do I really get concerned that this is an episode of depression or the beginning of a hypomanic phase? I often lack motivation before I’m suddenly full of the stuff, in the worst possible way. It has taken work, but I’m pretty in tube with my mental health and this doesn’t feel like anything than a funk. Yet, the thought is still there. This is why having a mental illness is exhausting, even when you are well you’re on the lookout for signs that you might not be. This is just a funk, I know that, but I wish it would bugger off.
I read a lot, be it articles, books or blog posts; it’s why I started my This week I’ve been reading posts. I love discovering new writers, re-visiting old favourites and I’m grateful to authors, bloggers, columnists, journalists and writers for putting pen to paper, so to speak, and sharing their work with the world.
To mark the new year I’m sharing 12 thought-provoking articles from 2016. These articles have all resonated with me in some way and I find myself returning to them frequently. They’ve helped me understand the world a little better. They’ve challenged my views on certain issues. They’ve helped me come to terms with things in my own life. They’ve reminded me of the importance of words and the power of telling our stories.
I’ve been struggling to write, with any real meaning, this year. Sometimes I write, but when read back it feels forced. Sometimes I write, but it goes round in circles until I don’t know what I’m trying to say. Sometimes the words flow easily, like this post about grief. For the most part, I’ve spent my time staring at a blank screen. My mind is full of ideas, but I can’t make sense of them on paper.
Enter Laura Jane Williams and her #AskTheQuestion series. These weekly emails, where Laura is honest about the things in life that are hard to do (emotionally and physically) and poses the same question of her readers that contributed to the story she shared, sounded exactly what I needed to reignite my writing spark. Laura is one of my favourite writers. Her writing is raw, honest and often times heartbreaking. It always makes me think and sometimes makes me cry when I didn’t realise I needed to, but it’s cathartic. Her ebook, The Book of Brave, helped me let go of the guilt I felt about some of the mistakes I’ve made.
The questions from weeks one and two definitely got me thinking. They got me talking, during therapy, but the writing still didn’t come. This week’s question is different. This week’s question hit me hard. The answer came immediately. The answer is part of the reason why writing has been so hard.
The question – What truth must you reveal to yourself, so that you might let somebody else in?
Some Advance Reader Copies (eARCs) via Netgalley, publishers and authors included. They will be marked with an *. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
I read loads in the first half of August, but towards the end I found myself struggling to concentrate. This has been a recurring theme this year, I find myself in the mood for reading but due to brain fog I can’t focus on the words in front of me.
Of the books I did read, there is a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.
Some Advance Reader Copies (eARCs and ARCs), via lovereading.co.uk, Netgalley, publishers and authors, included. They will be marked with an * You can read my full disclosure policy here.
May was a busy month reading wise; with mystery/thrillers being the genre that features the most.
Reading challenge wise; I’m 20 books ahead of schedule, so even if my rate of reading slows down I should still reach my target of 75 books for the year.
The Real Book Thief by Ingrid Black
Ingrid Black is the pseudonym of, crime-writing duo, Eilis O’Hanlon and Ian McConnell. In October 2015 they discovered their novels had been plagiarised and the stolen versions were riding high on the Amazon best sellers list.
The Real Book Thief tells the story of how O’Hanlon and McConnell went about tracking down Joanne Clancy and proving to Amazon that Clancy’sTear Drop was actually Ingrid Black’s The Dead.
While contact is made with Joanne Clancy, who she really is in never fully solved which leaves me with more questions than answers. Is she one person or multiple people? Does “she” really live in Ireland? Are any of her other books plagiarised?
O’Hanlon and McConnell seem far more understanding and forgiving than I ever could be. I understand why they didn’t go down the legal route. The costs are prohibitive. But it still feels like “Joanne Clancy” got away with it, even though they were caught and confessed.