Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Ten films I want to see | The Small Desk

So this is just going to be a short little blog post/list post, but you asked for it on Twitter and so here it is! These are the ten films I want to see, have you seen any? Any recommendations? 

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

2. The Scar

3. Barbicania

4. Persepolis

5. Trainspotting

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. The Book Thief

8. A Brilliant Young Mind

9. The Men Who Stare at Goats

10. Anna Karenina


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Why I like to keep all the books I have read | The Small Desk

I still vividly remember being in year six at primary school and having a diary where you had pages in the front and back where you had to list all the books you'd read over the year. I remember having 12 in total at the end of the year. I was really happy with this and couldn't believe I'd read so much, but then I saw my friend's list and it was over 30, if not 40. I wasn't so much upset by this but merely perplexed. I just couldn't understand how someone could read so many books over the course of a year. To be honest, I still can't. I am still a very slow reader and really struggle to read more than 20 pages in one sitting.

When I first when to school and was learning to write I used to write the letters backwards: the letters were in the right order, just all back to front, mirror writing my Mum describes it as. I've never found it easy to read or write. I've always found it something I've had to really work on and try, try again. I know it's the skill everyone gets taught at school, and it's meant to be the 'core' skill that you then build upon, but for me it's a skill I've always struggled with and the more I think about it the more I realise this is probably the reason I am where I am today.

Today I'm an editor and as part of my job I proofread and correct other people's writing. I write myself, I commission people to write and I read, a lot. If someone told my parents I would end up as an editor when I was at school doing mirror writing, they would have laughed! I think because I haven't found it easy it's sort of given me an obsession to try and improve on both. Sometimes when I read I feel I really have to concentrate otherwise the words are just a jumble. I need to have silence to read and I can't casually read. I need to decide I'm going to have a period of time where I read and have no distractions. I've never been tested for dyslexia but I expect I probably have a mild version of it.

I love to read how other people write and see other people's writing skills, but for me it is a massive achievement to finish a book because I don't find it easy. You will see I've started keeping a record of the books I've read on the About section of my blog, and I keep a lot of the books I've read as sort of trophies to remind me of my reading achievements.

They say that if you want to be a writer, write, and this blog has definitely helped me with that. I know I am not a perfect writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy it and I hope to enjoy reading more. I think it's also true to say if you want to be a writer, read.

Does anyone else struggle? Have you found any methods or blog posts that have helped you?


Monday, 3 October 2016

September favourites 2016 | The Small Desk

Weather-wise September has been a funny old month. There have been days where I've been sweating it out only wearing a light summer dress and days where I've been donning my oversized black mac. But I'm happy to welcome back the shit Autumn; the cold and dark Winter days and the relentless rain hammering on the windows. I love sitting inside with a warm mug of herbal tea and using the weather as an excuse to snuggle on the sofa watching crap TV. Don't get me wrong I do like sunshine now and again, just not heat. Heat is the enemy. I hate being overheated, sweaty and out of control. Also, you can't wear a dressing gown when it's hot, nightmare. Anyway, here's to the Winter nights, putting the heating on and drawing the curtains at 4pm!

Work-wise September has been fairly kind to me. The office was broken into, which meant we all had to work in one room for a while, but it meant I got to chat more to colleagues I don't normally have the opportunity to, so there was a silver lining in some sense. Social-wise I've actively had a week where I've done no socialising after work whatsoever, and I'm feeling very fresh and relaxed! I think sometimes it's important to do that. Family-wise my Granddad has been very ill this month and still is, so that's been tough on everyone. On the positive side we've booked our wedding venue close to where they live so I think that gave my Grandparents some happiness. I'm getting more excited about the wedding as it's now only 11 months to go, and the venue is very us, not too formal and a bit wacky. Anyway, here are my September favourites...

1. Dishoom with friends
On the first of the month I spontaneously met up with a couple who I am friends with through my fiancé, so friends for eight years! We went to Dishoom and had a delicious curry and catch up chats. 

2. Gallery wall
We finally got back lots of our prints from the framers and created a gallery wall in our living room. I love having a mismatch of frames and prints all hanging next to one another like the eighteenth century galleries of London. 

3. Rowing with Uni bestie and sister
I am obsessed with rowing now, and it was a pleasure to take my Uni bestie and sister out for a trip and show them my rowing skills, haha! 

4. Friend's new flat 
I went to see one of my old school friend's new flat that she bought by herself, so proud!

5. Farmstand dinner with Dad and fiancé
Another spontaneous after work meal! I work really close to both my Dad and my fiancé, and my Dad had some time to spare so we had dinner with him at Farmstand. It's a really cute little canteen-style restaurant that has some really healthy options.

6. Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park
For one of my friend's birthdays a group of us took her to see Pride and Prejudice at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. It did get a bit chilly and I had to buy a blanket but it was such a lovely evening and the performance was brilliant. I've now borrowed the classic Colin Firth series off a friend at work, because can you believe, I've never watched it!

7. Neighbours over for drinks
We had our lovely neighbours over for drinks and chatted about horrible work stories and our favourite furniture. 

8. Home for dinner 
Since moving over an hour away from my parents I've not been home after work for dinner like I used to. However I did it this month! It was a trek and I only stayed two hours, but still, I proved it's still possible!

9. Riverford boxes
I've signed us up for Riverford farm fruit and vegetable boxes! This means we get organic fruit and vegetables delivered to our door every week. It's forcing us to eat better, which is what I'd hoped for. This week I've got a HUGE bag of kale to get through, wish me luck! (Is that the most middle class thing I've ever written?!)

10. Found wedding venue
As I mentioned earlier we found our wedding venue! The deposit is down, the registry office is booked and we're starting to save... well nearly, ha!

11. 10 mile walk
One Sunday I decided to use an Ordnance Survey map to take me and the fiancé on a long walk near where we live. We managed to walk for over four hours and covered 10 miles. I felt this month I really needed that thinking space. I felt great the next day and would really recommend long walks as an enjoyable form of exercise. 

12. Wahaca with friends
The third spontaneous dinner with friends! One friend was in central and then it just spiralled. However we went to the Wahaca in Soho and the food was awful, I love Wahaca but I won't be visiting this branch again!

13. Lunch with old school friend
One of my old school friends is off to Oz for three weeks. She works just around the corner from me so we met up for lunch before she left. I wish I could go back to Oz!

14. Rowing with old school friend, Franco Manca and Bridget Jones' Baby
I did some more rowing at the end of the month and combined it with a trip to Franco Manca and to the cinema to see Bridget Jones' Baby. I thought the film was good but good in a chick flick way.

15. Parents over for cake 
My parents came over to our house and we had shop bought cake and tea and my Dad fixed some stuff in our house. Classic Dads!

16. Home every night for a whole week
I said this earlier, but this past week I've been home every night after work and it has been bliss. We've got some wedding things sorted out and had the opportunity to just chill out to the max.

17. Reading The Girls
I posted my review of this recently, so go check it out!

18. Watching 'Kew's Forgotten Queen'
BBC Four has really been upping its game with the art programmes recently, and this one, presented by Emilia Fox, really impressed me. It is about Marianne North, an artist whose work is now held at Kew Gardens. I think it's still on iPlayer, do check it out!

19. Making Save the Dates and asking bridesmaids
This month we've been making our Save the Date cards and I've asked all my bridesmaids to be my bridesmaids and they've all said yes!

20. Tried out my local swimming pool
My final favourite of the month is trying out my local swimming pool. It's only a ten minute walk away and they open late enough for us to go after work.

How is it already October? What have you been loving this month? Book, TV and film recommendations needed please!


Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Girls: Book Review | The Small Desk

I am tempted to write to Emma Cline to request that she only allows one man to make a film out of her book and that would be the director of the film, Marshland, Alberto Rodríguez Librero. You only have to watch the trailer to see what I mean about a film that is so beautifully crafted yet deals with an equally violent plot line. The Girls is a book that if made into a film would require a very sensitive adaptation. Yet when I watch an interview of Cline by Vintage books she states she doesn't want have anything to do with an adaptation of the book into a film; she is done with the book, she wants to move on and write something new. I imagine this is because of the subject nature of the book, one must have to create distance in order to stay sane.

This book is written so beautifully well. There were times when it got so harrowing I didn't know if I wanted to carry on reading, but I was drawn back in by wanting to read the way Cline had composed the next sentence. A quote on the front of the book reads 'I don't know which is more amazing, Emma Cline's understanding of human beings or her mastery of language', and I agree. But until I read that quote I had not fully grasped how good her descriptions of the character's emotions were, and how powerful the little relatable lines she had added were that I simply gobbled down on while devouring the story. Unbelievably this is Cline's debut novel; but the publishers knew it was gold and it was fought over ending with a record-breaking debut advance.

The Girls centres around one girl called Evie Boyd. It is set in the summer of 1969 in California. Evie's parents are divorced – she suffers the anxieties and troubles of the stereotypical child of a broken home, but her way of finding solace and a sense of belonging is not through a stereotypical teenage way of rebelling.

Evie sees the girls for the first time in the distance in a park – a vision from afar. Later she stumbles upon Suzanne, the leader of the girls, caught stealing in a nearby shop. From here Evie actively pushes herself into the pack of girls. She is led to the ranch the girls live on with their leader of sorts, named Russell. The story line is very similar to the Charles Manson case that also happened in the summer of 1969: Cline does not dismiss this as a source of inspiration. The girls are described as so floaty and careless yet animalistic and wild, but ultimately puppets of Russell.

What is really powerful about this novel is that it is told from the perspective of both a young and old Evie. We, as the reader see her anxieties grow worse as she ages, and how her experiences haunt her, and never leave her.

It is the type of book you do not forget easily; the type of book where you feel you almost have to say goodbye to the characters out loud; and the type of book that you will recommend with trepidation as the writing is so good but the plot line so harrowing.

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