New Year, New Me—It Must Be That Time of Year Again!

2016Woah, can you believe it—2015 is almost over! I feel like I’m constantly reiterating this point come December 31st every year, but it really is true. Maybe, now that I’m older (well, I’m still in my twenties, so not that old), the rose-tinted glasses aren’t holding me back in a whirlwind of Back-in-my-day-things-were-better’s and a lack of adult worries like paying bills, filing tax returns and actually looking forward to sleeping. But, that’s not the point of this blog post. Wow, am I forever saying that.

Just briefly glancing over last year’s New Year’s Eve post, I can already see that I’m starting to repeat myself. But, hey, at least I’m not telling you about how 2016 should be the Year of You and why you should change your love life, writer’s life, clutterfilled life, until your life is basically redefined and you’re in an alternate universe where life is spelled “feil”—oh, wait…

2015 was a year where I finished my novel, watched a lot of TV show box-sets, ticked off movies on my constantly-growing to-watch list, and focused on getting myself into a regular writing routine once again after writer’s block attacked me full force in 2013-14 and turned into a masquerading monster that blocked any and all ability to write anything meaningful (bad fanfictions don’t count).

As I mentioned last month, I set myself the goal of reading a book a month which, suffice to say, was a failure. Not a complete and utter failure, like your attempt to stay level-headed at the Boxing Day (i.e. Black Friday) sales and not buy everything in sight or your disastrous attempt not to go mad as Christmastime loomed its ugly head at you like the biggest cliche out there. This isn’t for a lack of trying, since I was pottering ahead wonderfully until that all-important month September loomed at me brightly, and I picked one of the many unread books up from my bookshelf and went; “I should read Lolita.” It’s probably a Just Bookworm Things cliche, but I feel incredibly guilty if I just give up on a book. I mean, not all books, since I did struggle through the second Fifty Shades before simply accepting that I could read no more emotional abuse fanfic. But hey, I thought Lolita would be different. It’s a classic. My creative writing teacher at uni was utterly obsessed with it, compelling me to want to read it. If I’d gotten through that awful mouse-cheese scene in American Psycho, I could definitely get through this. 128 pages and a month and a half later, and I had to concede defeat—this book just wasn’t for me. And yet I still think I’ll finish it one day.

Anyway, I did manage to get through some other books in this wonderful year twenty-fifteen. You want a good book recommendation? Some of these probably aren’t for you, then:

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Because no book review is complete without a picture of a stack of books!

My James: The Heartrending Story of James Bulger by His Father by Ralph Bulger, was my first pick for January 2015. This non-fiction is written by Ralph Bulger, the father of murdered toddler James Bulger. It was an emotionally moving story, and highlights the disgusting treatment of Bulger and his ex-wife by the UK authorities and media. It really shows how the justice system really isn’t that just at all, and how they are more focused on protecting the villain than the victim.

Rage by Stephen King. Now, this is an interesting one. I spent ages searching around for this book, eager to see what all the fuss was about Stephen King’s most controversial novel. A family member eventually came across an older version of the Bachman Books. For King’s earliest written novel, it shows, and the style is rather clunky and awkward. However, it shows an interesting look into how a school shooter’s mind works, and how people dealt with these things before it was common to do so. The character is both sympathetic and hateful, and I understand how it can leave people divisive.

The Running Man by Stephen King. Yeah, yeah. I did say I had a copy of the Bachman Books. After reading The Long Walk in 2014, I decided to give its more polished version a look-through. If people think Battle Royale inspired The Hunger Games, they really should be looking into these two classics. While I preferred The Long Walk, TRM was definitely the more polished of the two, with a more engaging plotline, and ending the way TLW should have ended. I mean, that ending really p***ed me off, making sure his friends all survived with him ’till the end. The chances of that! TRM was more, uh, explosive.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Technically I started this in 2014, but my library loan expired on the book and when I returned it, they removed all copies of the book and I had to wait for the new edition to appear. Now, this is a divisive book. The truth is, I much prefer the movie, as it has the same message without all of Ellis’ over the top 80’s nostalgia and absolutely bumbling, blithering hatred of women. Oh, yeah, I mean that. I meandered through the book however, and ended up skipping the chapters parading how much he knew of 80’s classic pop stars. On the other hand, I love the end of the book. It really inspired my own writing with the ending, and its complex message.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. This is also a book I started in late 2014, but didn’t end up finishing until this year because of a backlog of books. Also, I had to stop reading because of how Anne’s story ends. And then I wonder what would’ve happened if she’d survived, and if people would have called her a fraud like they do Elie Wiesel. Diary of a Young Girl is a classic, definitely a book anyone should read, maybe even especially for younger people, people who can more identify with the musings of a teenage girl.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. Like with Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is almost no difference between the book and the movie. Choose whatever suits you. But prepare to be in tears by the end. This is definitely an emotional, gripping novel.

For both Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Animal Farm by George Orwell, I’ve respectively mentioned them in previous blog posts this year.

Finally, Dexter is Dead by Jeff Lindsay. Most of the Dexter books aren’t nearly as interesting as Seasons 1 & 2 of the TV show. I loved the first two books, was completely baffled by the ridiculous nature of the third, and the rest have been average (maybe with the meh exceptions of Dexter is Delicious and Dexter’s Final Cut). I feel like Dexter’s Final Cut would have been an acceptable ending, but accidentally stumbled across book #8 months after it was released. Sure, it’s a continuation, and I read it with fascinated relish like each one before it, but it had the same enthusiasm as the later seasons of the show. However, there’s one thing going for it: the ending is much better than Season 8 of the show.

Lastly, I recently started On Writing by Stephen King (yeah, yeah), but didn’t finish it in time for this blog post, and I didn’t finish Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, so no review there.

Hope I didn’t bore your socks off and, if I didn’t, hope to hear from you in 2016! Instead of focusing on arbitrary New Year’s Resolutions this coming year, how about you just get back to basics and do what you love? Finish your novel, get into acting, start a political hashtag, read more (like I attempted)—as long as you focus on you, it’s all that matters.

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Don’t forget to celebrate like the Brewsters above, and party like it’s…err…2016!

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