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Sunday, 14 October 2018

Top Films for a Sick Day

Last week I was struck down with Freshers' Flu to the point that I ended up going home from work one lunchtime and having the rest of the week off work. I spent a lot of my time in bed and then on the sofa, where I watched (and napped to) a lot of films because I wasn't up to doing anything else! The common cold seems to be making it's way around the office and everyone seems to be going down with something, so I thought I'd share with you my top films to get through a sick day in case you end up having one soon!


Harry Potter
Harry Potter is the ultimate sick day watch, not least because there's so many to go through that they can last you all day if not longer! I've watched the series so many times that it doesn't matter how much I pay attention to what's going on, or if I fall asleep and wake up at a much later point. I always watched Harry Potter when I was poorly as a child, so watching it when I'm ill now is like receiving a comforting hug. I'm not sure I really need to explain the plot to Harry Potter (is there anybody now that doesn't know the story?) but if you haven't had the chance to watch them all through I would definitely recommend!



Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite Disney films, and it doesn't require a lot of thinking when you watch it. It follows the tale of Princess Aurora who has a curse placed upon her that on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die (one of the good fairies turns this to that she will fall asleep until true love's kiss) and the events that unfold on her 16th birthday. As princesses go she's pretty reliant on everyone else around her, but the drawings are beautiful and I like the songs!


Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and animated penguins as waiters dancing and singing - what more could you want? Mary Poppins follows the tale of nanny Mary Poppins (lol spoiler in the title there) who, I want to say is magic as I don't know how else I would describe her, comes to look after Jane and Michael Banks who have a mother preoccupied with fighting for votes for women, and a father more interested in his job than his children. With Mary, the children jump into chalk drawings, take tea on the ceiling, and dance with chimney sweeps on the Edwardian London skyline.



The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
As with Harry Potter, I like to watch a series of films because then I can just take a load of DVD's upstairs and watch the series through. The Narnia series is good because it breaks up the animated films, and The Lion, the Witch, and the the Wardrobe is a good one because it's like a cosy Christmas film without actually being a Christmas film so I can get away with watching it at any point during the year. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe follows four children (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy), who are evacuated from London during World War II, and move in with the Professor in the countryside. Here they discover the world of Narnia through a wardrobe in the spare room. Narnia isn't as welcoming as it appears, as it's ruled over by the white witch who's made it always winter but never Christmas, and soon the children are wrapped up in this world and the prophecy that they must fulfil.


School of Rock
I think the School of Rock has to be one of my favourite films - to the point that after attending the English Society Ball back in 2016 and the live band played 'Zak's Song' I decided I too want a live band at my wedding just so they can play this song. It's got some great one liners that still make me laugh out loud, and I don't think they'll ever get old. School of Rock focuses on Dewy, who is trying to make it in a rock band but after being kicked out of one he pretends to be his flatmate Ned and takes on a substitute teacher role. Rather than teach the children he turns them into a band with the aim of playing Battle of the Bands (the children think it's a nationwide school competition that they're entering).


Shrek 2
I think I may actually have watched Shrek 2 before ever watching the first Shrek, and it's still my favourite of the series. Despite saying I like to watch a series of films, I normally end up only watching the second Shrek because it's my favourite one. This is another film that I used to watch a lot when I was ill as a child; especially when I was round my nanna and grandad's as this was one of the DVD's they had (they had a lot of video's but only had a DVD player in their bedroom!). Shrek 2 carries on where the original left off - Shrek and Fiona get married and the film follows their travels to meet Fiona's parents and discover that Prince Charming was meant to save Fiona from the tower and break the curse, rather than Fiona turn into an ogre permanently. This has a lot of funny moments and I'm a sucker for a good film soundtrack!


The Wizard of Oz
Can you see there's bit of a theme going on here with films involving music and being predominantly children's films? The Wizard of Oz is another one I used to watch a lot at my nanna and grandad's (this time on video!) and it's another one that has a great soundtrack. The Wizard of Oz centres around Dorothy Gale, who is swept up in a tornado and lands in the exuberant world of Oz and her plight to get back home through this weird and wonderful land.



Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
I know, I know, you may be thinking 'isn't it Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?' - the new one is but the original with Gene Wilde is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Both are equally a good film for a sick day, but my preference will always be the original version. I think this version is closer to the original Roald Dahl book, and when you're not feeling so hungry because of your illness I find the mass amount of chocolate in this film ends up making me feel hungry again! This film has a lot of funny moments, including some of the special effects, and it was very clearly made in the 70's. I think this is another one where most people will know the plot of the story, but in case you don't, this film focuses on the elusive chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka, and five children's trip into the factory.


As you'll have seen from this post, a lot of the films I watch during a sick day, are ones that I used to watch when I was ill as a child, and I'll never try to watch a new film when I'm ill. Rather I like to watch ones that I've seen countless times before so I know where I am if I fall asleep for half of it and I haven't missed anything important, and they all make me feel super cosy when I'm not feeling so great in myself. What are your go to films for a sick day?

Jess x

*All gifs are sourced from giphy.com*
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Sunday, 7 October 2018

How I Scrapbook

For nearly the last two years I've been scrapbooking - my mum made me a scrapbook of my childhood for my sixteenth birthday which I love, and I was looking for something creative to do as a hobby, so I decided that I wanted in! I have now started my second scrapbook album as I ran out of space in my first, so I thought now would be a good time to show you how I scrapbook! My first scrapbook runs from October 2016 (I received my first album and card for my birthday) to the end of 2017, and I started my new one for 2018. 

My pages are set out chronologically by month, but what's on the actual pages for each month doesn't really have an order - it comes down to what I think looks good together! I use 12x12 inch card and fit these into plastic wallets which I then insert into my album. I know you can buy scrapbooks that come with paper inside, but I like having the freedom to put as many/as little pages in as I want to an empty album. I also like the protection that the plastic wallets give as I know that the pages will not stick together/get ruined when I look at them and I think this will help make them last longer. I order my photos through Boots online, and do this quarter yearly so I have a good stock to go through and add to my scrapbook! To show you how I scrapbook I thought it would be good to show the process of putting together one of my pages - I actually need to place another order for photos so this run through is for April of this year.

I start out by choosing which colour card I want for that month; I have a pad with lots of colours in, and if I have more than one page for the month I like to use the same colour to tie it together. Once I've got my sheet of card I get out my photos and bits from the month and then start playing around with the layout. 

I like that with Boots you can order square photos as well as the usual 6x4, so I can include any photos from instagram for that month. I also have a instax mini camera which I absolutely love using for my scrapbook! In some months I'll have a couple of polaroids where I'll dot them about the page, but when I have quite a few from the same day I like to block them together. 

Once I'm happy with the layout I then stick them down! Depending on how I'm feeling I'll either stick them down with pva glue or with masking tape. What I like about scrapbooking is that I can go through the photos I've taken (all on my phone!), choose my favourites, and then use them in something I know I'll actually look back on, because I don't know about you but once I've taken my photos they just tend to sit in my phone! I also like to save things from places I've been to, so on this page I stuck in a theatre ticket from when Tom and I went to see Shrek the Musical, but I'll also keep things like train tickets or cards I've received. I have an accordion file which I have labelled with each month, so as I collect things I can put them in the correct month so I know what goes where when it comes to sticking them in. I've found that I don't end up using every single photo I order, or every single ticket that I've kept, but it's nice to have a choice over what I put in when I get to a page. Anything that I don't use I put together in their own folder in case I can use them as background things further down the line. 

I think one of things I find most difficult, is deciding what I want to use for a title each month. For April's page I used some brown paper and flower patterned plastic sheet that I got from a bunch of flowers I had before! As well as keeping tickets etc, I also keep anything I can use to add something else to my pages or pick up things like postcards from places I visit to add in. 

As I've got the protective wallets for the pages, I stick things on both sides of the page and the other side for April is below! 

As well as showing you the process I go through when setting up a page, I thought you might also enjoy seeing some completed pages from my 2016/17 scrapbook. You'll see that when I've been somewhere for a day out or taken a lot of photos in a day, I like to dedicate a whole page to it. I also like to create spreads for trips so below you'll see a double page spread of when Tom and I went to London and Edinburgh, when I went to Suffolk for a week last year and a three page spread of our holiday to Majorca!



I knew that I would enjoy scrapbooking, but I didn't realise how much I would! I love having all my photos together, along with different things like tickets that spark a memory, and also the space to write out any information or mainly inside jokes between myself and Tom from days out together. Having completed a scrapbook it's so nice going back and remembering things about the year that otherwise I would forget. As I spend a lot of my time on a computer at work, I love having a creative hobby that's offline and the action of cutting and sticking is quite therapeutic. I've already mentioned that I have an accordion file where I keep things like tickets etc throughout the year so I know what month they align to, but I also have two clip storage boxes from Hobbycraft where I keep scrapbooking things. One is dedicated to different cards and papers that I've picked up (I particularly like Paperchase for postcards!) and the other is for other things like stickers, washi tape and different patterned scissors. Hobbycraft are also a great place to pick up different cards/papers and embellishments at a reasonable price. 

WOW that turned this turned out a longer post than I was expecting and I'm hoping I haven't forgotten anything - if you don't scrapbook I hope this has provided you with some inspiration to start and if you already scrapbook I'd love to see how you set out your pages as everyone's are so different! Let me know if you'd like to see a run through of my 2018 scrapbook once I've completed it, and if I've missed anything or you have any questions about scrapbooking send them my way.

Jess x 
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Friday, 21 September 2018

Things I Learnt Whilst at University

Five years ago today I moved from Suffolk to Sheffield to begin my English Literature degree at The University of Sheffield. I cannot believe it has been five years (!). Going away to university was a really exciting yet scary time, and throughout the three years of my degree I learnt a lot of things about myself, with a few English Literature related things along the way. This week was Fresher's week for 2018 and sitting through a welcome talk with the stench of weed and energy drinks took me right back to the start of my degree (not that I had any weed or in fact energy drinks). I thought it would be fun to share with you some things that I learnt whilst I was at university (this list is not an exhaustive list as you would be here all day).

Baby faced me! This was taken within my first week of being in Sheffield when Tom and I ventured into town for a look around


You can create a home almost anywhere as long as you have a few things around you and the right people. Growing up I had always lived in the same house and so moving away to Sheffield not only meant leaving home it meant leaving the only house I had ever known as home. From my experience of going from halls to a student house, and then into mine and Tom's house, once you've put out your bits and feel comfortable in the space you're living in, you've made yourself a home.


Some of the people you meet in the first couple of days of moving into halls/starting uni can end up being your friends throughout the whole of your degree (and after!) What's great about moving into halls is that everyone knows nobody so you're all in the same boat, and everyone's up for making friends. The amount of people you meet may seem overwhelming, but some of those first few can go onto become proper friendships. On my second day in Sheffield I went on a tour my Residential Mentor was running, where she split us into subject areas so we could get to know people on our course before lectures started the week after. It was because of this that I met Lucy and fast forward five years we're still the best gal pals and we even went on holiday to Whitby together. 


Cheese costs an absolute bomb. 

I like being able to wake up late every morning and I miss this in my graduate life.   

It's hard trying to share a single bed with someone where you either end up pressed against a wall, or gripping onto the side of the bed for dear life so that you don't fall off (cheers Tom). 

See your friends as much as possible. Whilst at university all your friends are within a 10 minute walk, but suddenly you've graduated and one friend has gone down south, one's gone up north, and another has gone back to Australia (Will come and visit soon please). 



Sometimes it's going to be hard, and that's okay. 

You shouldn't carry a bowl of coco pops down really steep stairs as when you fall down the bowl will end up flipping up your wall leaving coco pops and a milk residue stuck to it. 

Having a food or drink enough times can make you like it. When Tom and I went to Krakow we kept accidentally buying sparkling rather than still water and because I didn't want to waste it I would always drink it, which eventually made me like it. Some people may think it's disgusting but it means more water for me at a buffet when everyone's gone for still. 

Everyone works differently and at different paces, and there isn't a 'one size fits all' kind of life. 

I need a coffee when I get up in order to function throughout the day.

You can watch a film for the millionth time and still notice something new (for me it was who I've termed 'Weird Hagrid' in Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone, and CGI Neville)

Everyone has a different idea of when it's 'cold enough' for the heating to go on. 

Fresher's Flu is a real struggle. 

Train journey's are not always fun, sometimes it can be delayed for 2 hours, sometimes it can miss your stop completely, and sometimes you can get a train mid-August in the baking heat where no windows can be opened and you feel like a stunt double for the Wicked Witch of the West. 

'Don't go to university in a relationship' is a load of crap. (To fill you in if you're new here: Tom and I have been together since we were 15 and we both ended up going to the same university because we individually liked it, not because the other was going there.) I completely get that when you move away and go to university how you are as a person changes but that doesn't mean that your relationship can't grow with these changes. Tom and I always said that we'd give it a go and if it didn't work out it didn't work out, rather than throw it all in before we left (because imagine where we'd be today if we had!)



Jess x

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Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Autumn Photo Challenge 2018

Ah September. Children are starting to go back to school, hushed mentions of the 'C' holiday are mentioned, and summer starts to transition into autumn. The heatwave is definitely over; I'm starting to pull all my jumpers out and thinking whether I need to get a new coat to combat the cold. Autumn is my favourite season of the year - the cosy jumpers, the walks amongst the fallen leaves and aaaaaall the roast dinners (!) To celebrate the start of the transition into autumn, I have set myself a photo challenge to try and capture all the best things about the season. I've taken part in other people's photo challenges in the past (looking at you Gwennan), but this year I wanted to make my own to focus on my favourite things of the season! 


I thought twenty photos would be manageable whilst still being a challenge to capture everything. I've left them vague so that I can have some fun with them and I've love it if you'd take part in the challenge too! I'm going to be posting my photos over on my instagram and will be using #jlkautumn so I can see all my photos together so be sure to use the hashtag for your photos too! 

Happy snapping!

Jess x 
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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Chocolate Kinder Bueno Cupcakes

Last week I made these amazing cupcakes (if I say so myself) for my mum and they were so good that I had to share the recipe with you! They're a chocolatey sponge, topped with a lot (!) of chocolate buttercream icing, and a chunk of a Kinder Bueno I found the recipe on Jane's Patisserie; if you've been a reader for a while you'll know that I've used her recipes in the past and they've always been amazing - these did not disappoint! This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

Items needed:
12 cupcakes cases and cupcake tray
Large bowl
Mixer/electric beater
Bowl/saucepan to melt chocolate

Ingredients:
Cupcakes
175g Butter
175g Light Brown Sugar
3 Large or 4 Medium eggs
140g Self-Raising Flour
35g Cocoa Powder
1tsp Vanilla Extract
2 - 3 tbsp Milk

Buttercream Icing
150g Butter
300g Icing Sugar
100g Chocolate (I couldn't find any Kinder chocolate so I used Dairy Milk)
Kinder Bueno Bars to top

Method:
- Line your cupcake case tray with cupcake cases, and preheat your oven to 170C (I had mine on the equivalent of 200C because I knew my cooker would need to be higher but amend this to what suits your oven type!)
- Cream together the butter and sugar, and then add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Beat together until combined, and add a splash of milk if the mixture seems a bit stiff.
- Spoon the mixture into your cupcake cases - I used some larger Bake Off cases and the petal like detail on the sides ended up helping the icing stay on top of the cake! Bake in the oven for 18 - 20 minutes or until cooked through (after 22 minutes mine were ready but again this is completely dependent on your oven and how it likes to cook!) Leave to cool.
- Once the cupcakes are cool it's time to make the icing! Melt the chocolate via your preferred method and leave to one side. Cream the butter in your bowl, and add 1/3 of the icing sugar and beat again until combined. Repeat this until all the icing sugar has been incorporated.
- Add in the melted chocolate and continue to beat until you have a beautifully mixed icing ready to go on the cupcakes!
- Top the cupcakes with your icing (I have no idea how to pipe icing so I just plop it on with a spoon) and a chunk of Kinder Bueno to each cupcake - I used one chunk but if you feel like sticking two chunks in you go for it.
- EAT ALL THE CAKE

I can vouch that these went down a treat with my mum, my dad, myself and Tom. I think a testament to a good cake is how long they hang around for - these did not last long! I will definitely make these again, but for now I'll scroll through choosing what I want to make next. What are some of your favourite sweet treat recipes? I'm always open to making more cake!

Jess x 

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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Staycation in Suffolk

 A few weeks ago myself and Tom took a trip down to Suffolk to stay at his dad's for a weeks holiday. We decided to have a staycation this year and it was during the UK heatwave so we were really lucky with the weather! I've now been back at work for a few weeks and it seems like a long time since I had my holiday, and so I thought it was about time to look through my snaps and share them with you! If you're new around here, you may not know that both myself and Tom are from Suffolk (now living in Sheffield) and so we knew some of the places we visited but hadn't been to them for a very long time and we had not been to them together before.

  After travelling down the A1and A14 for a few hours accompanied by our updated Sat Nav voice (we went with the Australian man) we reached Tom's dad's house which is located a few miles outside of Ipswich. Our afternoon and evening was spent sitting outside on their comfy sofas and having a BBQ (I was so excited when Steve rang up Tom the night before asking if we wanted one).


 On the Sunday we completed a mass tour of Tom's family living further north and a part of this included going to see the house that I grew up in (my parents moved late last year and this was the first time I had gone back to Suffolk when they no longer lived there) and going for a short walk up the lane. It might not look like anything special, but this lane is filled with so many memories from my childhood; of my nanna and grandad taking me to pick blackberries, taking both our family and grandparent's dogs for walks, Tilly shimmying out of her harness and Tom having to run after her, and the time that it rained so hard on a walk that my trainers gained a helpful hole in the bottom. After a trip down memory lane (quite literally) we stopped for an ice cream before carrying on the family tour. Always carry a big bottle of water with you, drink it, and have rests on hot days, because I found out the hard way what happens when you don't. It equals being ill, needing a massive nap with a fan on when you get back to where you are staying, and missing out on a roast dinner. #idonotrecommend


On the Monday we took a trip to Colchester Zoo which neither of us had been to since we were children. Fun fact for you, one of the first days out that Tom and I spent together before we were a couple was at Kessingland Zoo when we were 14. This time we opted for Colchester because it was a lot nearer, and it's absolutely massive (we ended up spending about 6 hours there walking round). We were happy to see that the animals had a lot of space and that the Zoo had a lot of information about how endangered each species was and what they were doing for conservation. Our day included seeing the Sea Lions be fed, going on a little train to a Lemur walk, and even feeding an Elephant. Of course the day was rounded up by having a Mr Whippy!



The sea. Oh how I miss the sea. If you've been a reader for a long time, or follow me on Instagram, you should know how much I love the sea and how much I miss living a short drive away (I think the nearest beach to Sheffield is about an hour and a half away?). So when I stay somewhere that is in the vicinity of the sea I of course have to go for a visit! We took a trip to Aldeburgh (it's a fancy sea side town) to meet up with Tom's Grandad for some Fish and Chips. It was actually really windy in Aldeburgh and I ended up putting a cardigan on (!) but I still went for a paddle, before walking along the sea front from the car park into the town. After visiting Aldeburgh we stopped off at Snape Maltings where I picked up a new blanket, before heading over to my grandparents and then my Aunt's house. 




We decided to have more of a chilled day on the Wednesday and so we spent most of the day at Steve's in the garden, but in the afternoon we went to Flatford Mill before going to visit my Aunty where we had Dominos for tea (winning). Flatford Mill is beautiful. We actually have a painting of the mill hung up in our lounge that my granddad painted and so I thought it would be lovely to visit the actual site. (Turns out my parents did take me before many moons ago but I just don't remember). This was such a serene and calm place; we went on one of the mapped out walks (where we saw all the sheep) and took a walk alongside the river. I loved it so much here that the photo of Willy Lott's House is now my screensaver at work; no wonder Constable decided to paint it (this is one of the reasons why the mill and surrounding area is well known).
 




On our final day we didn't want to go very far because of the long car journey we had ahead of us the following day, and so we went to Felixstowe where we again saw the sea (yay!) and I even managed to get Tom to have a paddle this time. We went to the arcade and played on the 2p machines, before eating our lunch along the seafront and getting some freshly made doughnuts. I then spent most of the afternoon having a nap outside on the comfy sofa whilst Tom read his book, and to finish off our trip we took Steve and Sharon out for tea as a thank you for having us to stay.

 I won't lie to you, I did really want to go abroad on holiday but it just wasn't feasible for us this year which was why we decided to have staycation, and actually, I loved our holiday. It was really lovely to go back to Suffolk again because although I'm glad that I now live in Sheffield, it's a comforting place to go back to and explore places both of us hadn't been to for a long time. As these were places that we had not really been to together because they were a lot further south than where we used to live, it was lovely to hear Tom's stories and be able to share mine with him, whilst making our own memories in these places together. Having hot weather also helped the enjoyment levels! I'm hoping that we'll be able to have a Sheffield-based staycation at the end of the month, and I'm looking forward to exploring the places around where we live more.
 
Jess x 

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Thursday, 12 July 2018

June 2018


Wowee where did June go and how are we more than half way through the year?!

1.// We went out for a curry with my parents (I am in this photo but I've been cut off by the square setting lol) where we had a giant naan and spicier than spice curry.
2.// Tom and I made the trip over to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to see Taylor Swift - the props and special effects were really good and I managed to drive back through Snake Pass in the dark.
3.// Tom and I played mini golf before going to see the new Jurassic World film where I had my first Tango Blast (I can vouch that I will be getting one again).
4.// We went to Brodsworth Hall for the afternoon; the Hall was okay but the gardens were amaaazing and it felt like we were away in another country.
5.// Before the heatwave hit we went for a walk up on Stanage Edge - Tilly enjoyed running between the rocks and Tom and Tilly had a Simba moment (check this out on my instagram!)
6.// Many an afternoon was spent out in the garden in the sunshine with the odd nap involved.
7.// We made the trip up to Durham to see Tom's brother Lewis graduate (like our graduation it was an incredibly hot day!)
8.// Whilst in Durham and in Lewis' Department's celebratory garden party Tom's shoes fell apart.
9.// The end of the month saw Tom and I travel down to Suffolk for a holiday.

How was your June?

Jess x
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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Top Reads from my Degree

Two years ago I finished my English Literature degree. During the three years leading up to that point I read A LOT of books - as you would expect - and whenever I tell someone what my degree was in I always get asked 'what did you read'?. Most of the time I think people are hoping I'll mention a book that they've read as well, and whilst some of the bits I read were the usual classics, a lot were pieces that you wouldn't generally read unless you had a specific interest in the area. That being said, I thought I'd share with you my top reads from my degree that I think you should give a try. I'll share a bit about what each book entails but I will stay vague so that I don't ruin anything for you!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

Now we've all seen the Disney film, but have you all read the book? I had read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland previously, but I had not read Through the Looking Glass. I read both of these as a part of my Romantic and Victorian Prose module. It was really interesting to read them both together and look at them from a literature background on such things like the representation of childhood moving towards adulthood, both within the text and the difference in images between the two. 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is different to the Disney film, but still follows the tale of Alice falling down the rabbit hole and her adventures in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. In Through the Looking Glass Alice is a little bit older and goes through a mirror to a parallel-type world where there are familiar faces that appear as different characters because Alice cannot recognise them for who they are because she's starting to move away from her childhood. 

The Reader - Bernhard Schlink

I read The Reader as part of my Representation of the Holocaust module. The Reader is split into three parts, focusing on different stages of Michael's life and his relationship with an older woman Hanna Schmitz. Although focusing on the pair, the book deals with the difficulties post-war German generations had in comprehending the Holocaust, and examines the figure of the perpetrator as part of this comprehension.

*There is a film of the book which is a good adaptation, but I would read the book first!*

Caleb Williams - William Godwin

Caleb Williams was one that seemed to split people I spoke to in my module; most of my friends hated it but I really enjoyed it. I read this as part of my Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature module which was an era that I had never really read anything from; at school it seemed to be you read Shakespeare and then jumped into the Victorian era. Caleb is told a story about a man he works for, Falkland Ferdinand, and begins to examine details of his life which leads him to the conclusion that he thinks Falkland is a murderer. The book then follows the revelation of this, and the pursuit of Caleb by Falkland to ensure that his secret is not revealed. 

Short Stories - Katherine Mansfield 

I read a few of Katherine Mansfield's short stories in my first and third year, for my Studying Prose module and my Modern Literature module. In particular I read The Garden Party, At the Bay, and Prelude. The stories are obviously all different but what drew me to her writing was her connection with prominent issues like class through her pieces. I bought the collection when I finished my degree because I enjoyed the stories and wanted to read some more! 

'None of Us Will Return' Auschwitz and After - Charlotte Delbo 

Auschwitz and After is a beautifully heart wrenching collection from Birkenau survivor Charlotte Delbo. I also read this as a part of my Representing the Holocaust module, and 'None of Us Will Return' focuses on Delbo's experience of the camp. Delbo, a political prisoner, explores her experience through poetry and prose, and along with her own experience, shares the experience of others in the camp who are unable to share their own. 

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote 

In Cold Blood is a non-fiction novel detailing the murder of the Herbert Clutter Family, and I read this as a part of my Contemporary Literature module. It examines the lives of the four members of the family, the two murderers, and other residents of the town. I found this interesting not only because of the non-fiction aspect, but also with its engagement with questions about the death penalty and being on death row. 


My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me - Jennifer Teege 

I read My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me for my dissertation; Jennifer's mother featured in a documentary that I was focusing one of my dissertation sections on, about descendants of prominent Nazi perpetrators. This book follows Jennifer's discovery of who her grandfather was, and also focuses on her turbulent relationship with her mother and examines her attempts to come to terms with the revelation of her ancestor.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy 

I've already talked about how much I love Tess way back when I did a post on the 10 Books That Left a Lasting Impression and my Top Five Classics and if you are still yet to read it surely my third time recommending it should be enough for you? I was able to read this as part of my Darwin and the Nineteenth-Century Novel module, and I know this is a book that I will continue to re-read throughout my life. I'm not entirely sure what it is about Tess that I love; it's a very depressing book but Hardy writes so beautifully which is why he is one of my all time favourite authors. I think it's also because Tess was one of the first 'classics' that I read at A Level and was the start of what became my absolute love of English Literature as a subject. 

This book focuses on Tess, a farmer's daughter, whose father discovers they are descended from an old family called the D'Urberville's, and the journey that befalls her after this discovery and the lasting effect this discovery has on her and her family's life. 

Persuasion - Jane Austen

I had read a few Jane Austen novels before I went to University; Pride and Prejudice and also Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, so I enjoyed having the chance to read another one of her novels as a part of my Romantic and Victorian Prose module. The story focuses on Anne Elliot whose family are moving to get out of debt. Previously Anne had been engaged to Frederick Wentworth who at the time was not wealthy and had no great family name behind him but in the present Anne and Frederick meet again, both still unmarried but Frederick now a wealthy man. As with most Austen novels this has issues of wealth and class throughout and the importance society places on both of these. 

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 

Can you tell that I like a good Victorian novel? I hadn't really read much of Dickens but knew a lot of the stories, and I had a vague idea about Great Expectations and its characters. This follows the journey of Pip from childhood to adulthood, from the point of view of adult Pip. In particular it depicts the character of Miss Havisham and the impact that Pip's encounters with her has on his life. Pip, a poor orphan, is pushed into the world of wealth and luxury by Miss Havisham as part of a wider plan she has, and the story focuses on the themes of wealth, class, love, rejection and good and evil.

I hope that this has been able to provide some ideas of new books to read that you might not normally  engage with. Have you got any recommendations for me? I've gotten back into reading this year as I set myself the goal of reading twelve books in twelve months and I'd love to add some of your recommendations to my to read list!

Jess x 
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