So somehow it’s June 30th already, which is cray-cray. Yet at the same time, this month has been a whirlwind, so I’m not that surprised.
I finally submitted my PhD dissertation (HUZZAH!), and can now relax for the summer – well except for my part-time job. And re-writing HONORS (again…). And researching the sequel. And a new stand-alone I started in April. And reading a CP’s manuscript. And, y’know, diving into my TBR pile, which is pretty huge at the moment.
But I am definitely not complaining! I’ve been looking forward to this moment for almost four years, when I can at last celebrate my submission, and enjoy the summer by doing what I WANT to do, not what I *should* be doing for my PhD. (Side note: Ugh I HATE the word ‘should’.) Also my chap graduated from his PhD, so that was so fun to celebrate with him and his family.
There’s a not-so-wee elephant in the room though, that happened the day after he graduated, and the day I submitted, so it sort of cast a shadow on our joy and, well, the Future. I’m speaking, of course, about the newest political clusterf*ck of 2016: the British referendum, and the result. I am not a British citizen, so I couldn’t vote, and I kept my opinions to myself before the referendum. And here in London there was definitely a current of ‘Oh it will never happen, because the Brits are practical people who listen to common sense.’
Well when we woke up last Friday to the result, it truly was like waking up to find out your nightmare was real. We are legitimately worried about what will happen to EU citizens living in the UK, about what will happen to Scotland, and in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Yes there is a ‘two-year waiting period’ where everything will get hammered out eventually (IF they ever actually enact Article 50…), but this result has thrown everything upside down for us. And we’re pissed and shocked and disappointed.
Right now there really isn’t anything we can do, except look at citizenship options, or, y’know, maybe just move back to Scotland. (Or the US – depending on how November goes…)
So I’m just focusing on writing and editing and reading. I did ok in terms of my reading goals the past few months, but I’m hoping to read a lot more now. I read mostly non-fiction, for personal interest, for my part-time job, and for novel research. I started with COURTIERS, by Lucy Worsley.
This was a brilliant account of the courts of George I, George II and Queen Caroline in the first half of the 18th century. The author is the head curator of Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the palaces of Kensington, Hampton Court, Kew, the Tower of London, and the Banqueting House, so I’d say she has one of the world’s most enviable jobs. This reads almost like a novel, especially in the way she weaves the various lives of the ‘characters’ together, and the author’s dry wit had me laughing out loud – in a discreet British way of course. You really get a behind-the-scenes look at life in the court, warts (and pimples and powder and pox scars) and all. My only critique is that it jumps around quite a lot, and I would have preferred a slightly more linear approach, but it made for easy and really insightful reading, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the Georgian era.
Next I read a book closer to home for me:
This was brilliant – a well-researched and tense account of Benedict Arnold’s attack on two cities in Connecticut, New London and Groton. I don’t normally dog-ear pages, but with this one I did. I immediately wanted to re-read it once I finished it, and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone intrigued by Arnold or by the Revolutionary War. I especially love that it’s about my home-state of Connecticut (it made me SUPER homesick), and even though it’s about a dark time in our history, I still loved immersing myself in it. This was an important historical event that’s usually overshadowed by the end of the war and the final battle at Yorktown, but it definitely deserves to be remembered.
I’m also fascinated by the Stuart line of kings and queens, and Queen Anne is someone about whom I barely knew anything, except that a furniture style is named after her. So I was really excited to find this biography of her in an awesome little book shop in South Kensington (called South Kensington Books!), which you should absolutely visit when in London.
This book reminded me of COURTIERS right away, because the author is clearly an expert on the subject, and utilized huge amounts of primary sources for her research – but also because it jumps around a bit. Again, not a huge deal, but it can be a bit jarring when you read for long periods of time. If you are dipping in and out of it then it’s fine. And in fact I’m keeping this book at work to read during breaks, so it’s perfect.
Anne is a fascinating figure who, again, often gets overshadowed by earlier and later monarchs. So does her elder sister Mary, who was queen before Anne, and ruled for a short time alongside her husband William of Orange before dying at an early age of smallpox. I really want to read about them next, but I guess I should (AGH there’s that word again) finish this book first. I’m about halfway through now, and it’s fantastic.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling tugged in several directions by the different books on my nightstand (and bookshelf…and desk…). For those of you with multiple books calling your name, how do you go about reading them? Do you read them one at a time? Or do you jump between them depending on your mood or how much time you have? I tend to read them one at a time, because I like to focus on one story or set of characters.
Also also, it’s just SUPER exciting to have time to read ALL the books now.
Right now, I’m reading a CP’s manuscript (which is amazing!). Before I began reading that, though, I started V.E. Schwab’s A GATHERING OF SHADOWS, which I’ve posted about before, but I’m so excited to have finally started it. She’s one of my favorite authors, and it’s always a treat to get lost in one of her books.
I’ve certainly got enough to keep me busy even without the PhD obligations that I had before, but I like this kind of busy. It feels so good to get back into reading and writing regularly, and I find that the busier I am with the things that make me happy, the less likely I am to be anxious or have panic attacks.
And there is so much going on in the world to be panicking over, or stressing about. I still do, and quite often, but I’m going to try desperately to keep myself afloat by writing and reading more, by doing the things that make me happy, and being with the people who make me happy.
So, to anyone reading this, take care, and as the great Red Green always says:
PS – This whole Brexit debacle has been truly horrible so far, but I can’t help but think some of the Europeans (especially the French) are feeling a bit like this right now: