Book Clubs & Other Bookish Thoughts

Hello August! A new month, the last month of the summer!

August holds a lot of action for me: a trip to Istanbul & Amsterdam, a LOT of writing and hopefully, a lot of reading. August is also the month where I’ll be hosting the first book club meeting of our group.

This is my second go on the whole bookclub idea. Over the years, I noticed many patterns that all book-lovers seem to display: following the bookish news like awards, reviews, talks, events etc, going through someone’s bookshelves when we’re at a new place (I like going through the books at my supervisor’s office, he always has some interesting titles), highlighting the favourite bits (and usually taking notes), but most of all- sharing. We love sharing the books we love (or sometimes hate) in any form possible: by photos on instagram, by nagging to a friend while we wait for the tube, on social media, on book blogs and sometimes, at book clubs.

I’ve always found the idea of a book club very alluring. A few people reading the same book, then coming together to share thoughts and musings while sipping on coffee or wine (or both, if you’re like me!). The things is, books are one of those rare entities that you can enjoy immensely, both by yourself or as a part of a group. And while sharing your thoughts with other people, your thoughts get more organised, and this allows you to think of things you perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise. You hear others’ thoughts and this gives you even more ideas, and suddenly there are more windows to open, more lightbulbs going on in your head and hence more pleasure to be taken out of the experience. Book clubs can also lead you to pick up books you otherwise wouldn’t have, genres you thought were not your cup of tea, therefore, pushing you out of your comfort zone. And we all know that’s where the magic happens 🙂

Confort Zone

Of course, this is the ideal scenario. But as always, where there are dreams there is also the reality. People are busy. There’s work, there’s traffic, there are house chores, emails we have to write, phone calls we have to make, dry cleaning we have to pick up… People can easily share things online, why bother doing it face to face? People are excited at first but soon we lose our attention and less and less people start to show up…

But the optimist in me believes second time around could be better, who knows! And if not, I still have my corner to read, with my bookshelves, my rustic oak chair and my cup of coffee. Our first meeting is on the 28th of August and we’ll be talking about Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. My plan is to write down all the interesting bits we talk over, and write a review of the book club meeting, instead of just the book itself.

My Sanctuary a.k.a My Bookish Corner
My Sanctuary a.k.a My Bookish Corner

What are your plans for this August? Do you have any experiences with book clubs? What are your suggestions, do’s & don’ts? Drop a comment and let me know. Also, before I go, here are some bookish links from the last couple of days that I found interesting.

Happy August 🙂

Ten Books to Read in August – BBC Culture

Wounded Women – The Boston Review  

The Story of Alice (Video) – London Review of Books

Man Booker Prize, Summer Reads and More – World Literature Today 

Who should be Kicked out of the Canon? -NY Times Book Review 

Man Booker Prize 2015 Longlist

Man Booker Prize 2015

I don’t know why- but I love following these lists! I don’t solely  depend on them when it comes to constructing my reading list (that is a bizarre combination of favourite book blogs, recommendations from trusted friends, impulse purchases and reviews from various magazines) and I’m a little embarrassed to admit my lack of knowledge on this years list. I haven’t really read any of the books, except A Little Life, as I’ve mentioned before, and I was so happy to see it made the longlist! I am hoping to write a detailed review once I’m done, which may take a while since the book is 736 pages, but I will get there eventually 🙂

For now I’ll leave you with some links about the 2015 Longlist:

Man Booker Prize Longlist

Man Booker Prize – The Guardian  

Man Booker Prize – The Telegraph 

Inside the 2015 Man Booker Longlist – The Atlantic 

Its almost Friday- hold on tight!

What’s in a Title?

Coming up with titles are always tricky. Whether its an op-ed, a new chapter for my dissertation or  simply a blog post- titles are usually the hardest part for me. They have to be precise, tell the reader exactly what to expect and if possible, it should be sharp, witty or sarcastic. So picking the title for this blog was not a walk in the park…

Lets break it apart and walk through it then!

My Life

This sounds simple, but like all things that appear that way, it is not. Now that I am very close to my 30s, I am learning not to use this phrase lightly. I always knew the kind of life I wanted for myself, like a day dream you play over and over in your head that after a while it feels like a true memory, I always wanted to be a writer and an academic. I always wanted a life filled with art, friends, travel, adventures, nature and as I discovered 3 years ago, teaching. Ever since middle-school, I put in the effort and time to discover what my passions were, then worked on to build the courage to follow them. They have taken me far away from home, from one adventure to the next and I am grateful for every moment of it. And although I am not there yet, I am on the right track and enjoying my journey. “My Life” is filled with all those things I care about, cherish and enjoy but it didn’t happen on its own; I had to work hard for it, make sacrifices and had to learn how to pick my self up and continue after every set back. That is my life


My Narrative


My PhD dissertation mainly focuses on nationalism and narrative and how these two affect each other. And given this is my final writing-up year, I’ve read and ponder over many ideas regarding narrative over the past 3 years. It started out as a simple idea: Every identity, whether its national, religious, ethnic, cultural or simply individual, is constructed via narrative. We listen to stories and then we build our own for our own needs and likes. Once I realised that, I became almost obsessed with how we are surrounded with narrative in every aspect of our lives (politics, sports, fashion, tabloid, history, advertising, family… you name it!), I was careful as to study them, find out which ones work and why, and understand why we have this deep need for narrative in our lives. This is also a journey of turning my life into my narrative, being in charge of my narrative and not be so open to manipulations. To me, a life lived to the fullest means you decide that you’ll be the author of your own story. And that’s where my narrative comes from…


I’ll leave you with this for now. My narrative for today is  to take my dog out for a walk (its still cold but at least we got sunshine!), enjoy another cup of coffee with morning news (I’m actually 29, not 109) and then head off to the library to work on my dissertation. I got drinks with friends in the evening so I’ll use that as motivation 🙂

But before I go, here are some links I found interesting from the past few days…

The magnificent 70: Guardian Not the Booker prize longlist announced

Amelia Earhart on sticking up for yourself – wonderful letter of advice to her younger sister

The Library of Babel as Seen from Within


What about that summertime in London?

Good Morning London, you suck!

Its cold, its raining and because I broke my pinky toe last week, I have to wear flip-flops which means I am minutes away from defying evolution and growing fins!

On the other hand, for a PhD student who is trying to make her write-up deadline, this kind of weather works wonders. I am famous for my easyly-distracted nature and sunshine is one of those shiny things that grabs my attention and never lets go. So here I am, on a Sunday morning, nested comfortably at my table, facing the open door of my balcony and listening to the sound of British summer dripping away! I’ll start working soon, doing some reading to finish my third chapter.

There is something about Sundays that makes me take it easy, read all the magazines, articles, blogs I’ve been neglecting for the pass week and drink ridiculous amounts of coffee. My husband also likes to hibernates on Sundays, usually watching sports on TV or catching up on reading, so there is a comatose-state in our little household on this day that even God decided to rest.

Well, God may have taken the day off, but PhD students can’t. So I’ll do some work and try to squeeze in some recreational reading. I have 3 books on my nightstand at the moment:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I’ve had this one on my Kindle for sometime after seeing it on literally ALL of my favourite book blogs. But it wants until last week I began reading it and I think it was Station Eleven that persuaded me. After devouring it, I was craving for more and Ready Player One seemed like a good choice. I wasn’t wrong. Its quiet different in tone but I’m still enjoying it. Escapism in any form I find interesting and I like the book’s unapologetic tone when it comes to technology and using it as a tool to escape reality.

A Little Life Life by Hanya Yanagihara – Ahh this book… Its so eloquently written its breaking my heart! I’ve been reading it for a week now and only made it %15 according to my Kindle which is no problemo beacause its such a captivating read that I want to spend as much time with it as possible (Its also 736 pages long so this one might take me a while.) The four characters in the novel are very alive, deep individuals and stories on friendship have a special place in my heart. I think I’ll write more about this as I read more.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami – As a big fat Murakami fan, I’ve read this 5 years ago but my book club decided to read this so I’ll be rereading it until Agugust 28th. Now, I’m not a big fan of rereads since my to-be-read file is tragically and deliciously long but if there is anyone who deserves a reread- its Murakami!

We bought tickets for the AntMan tonight, like the true geeks we are who pride themselves in never missing a Marvel movie, but until then it’s all about staying home, drinking coffee and reading. Happy Sundays!

A scene from my Sunday
A scene from my Sunday