‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig [Book Review]

If you’re going to read any book in your life, whether you love reading or not, I would recommend this one. No doubt about it.

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When I first heard about ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ I instantly knew it was something I wanted to read, however like most things, it took me a while to get round to it. When I did though, instead of reading it all in one sitting (which I could have done, easily, because it’s that good), I read parts at a time over the course of a few months. I’m so glad I did this, because it has so much information to take away that you couldn’t possibly store it all into your brain at once.

‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is the journey of Matt Haig through his battle with depression and anxiety after his breakdown in his early twenties through to where he is now. It’s easy to think it would be a difficult read, one that depresses you in itself, however I was amazed at how well Haig took his own experiences and flipped them to turn mental health into something that should be acknowledged and accepted and most of all, understood.

I think a lot of the time those struggling with mental health problems find it hard to escape their own mind and rationalise things – I know I certainly do. This book helped me make sense of things on a wider scale, and that’s part of the reason why I read it over a longer period of time, because whenever I felt like I was withdrawing into myself or needed some reassurance I would pick up the book before bed. It made me realise that things can be worse but that I shouldn’t minimise my current feelings in relation to it. I think at one point Haig mentions that he saw many signals leading up to his breakdown but that he just ignored them. It made me think twice about not seeking help about anxiety. It made me think that I had somehow picked up this book at just the right time, at the exact time when I’d started struggling more and needed the reassurance that I can do it and that I should seek help if I need to. And I am. I’m working on it. I feel like this book became part of that process for me.

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Excerpt from the book!

What I loved most about this book is that it isn’t the typical memoir. It doesn’t focus solely on Haig’s life in a chronological order. Instead it’s in snippets – parts about his life, conversations with his past self and his new self, self-help ideas, general related thoughts. It’s endless. And I think the idea of snippets also mimics the mind when facing mental health, because your thoughts are all over the place and sometimes they don’t follow a certain pattern they just hit you at random moments in time. Maybe that’s what he’s getting at. Or maybe I just like analysing things too much.

It’s so hard for me to narrow down this book into one review because I feel like I could write an essay on every single chapter. It’s crazy how a book can just make you feel like someone thinks the same as you, and it’s comforting to know that. I really think that this book is so important, especially at this current moment in society, especially when mental health is rising and we’re trying to fight off the stigma. I definitely think there is less stigma surrounding it than there was, because of people like Haig that are sharing their stories and letting themselves be known, however I still think that it’s not entirely understood, even if it is accepted. Maybe it’s too idealistic to think that those who haven’t experienced it could ever understand, but I think Haig’s book is the closest someone could get to it. I really do.

One particular section that really got me thinking was this:

“People often use the word ‘despite’ in the context of mental illness. So-and-so did such-and-such despite having depression/anxiety/OCD/agoraphobia/whatever. But sometimes that ‘despite’ should be a ‘because’. For instance, I write because of depression. I was not a writer before. The intensity needed – to explore things with relentless curiosity and energy – simply wasn’t there. Fear makes us curious. Sadness makes us philosophise.”

As soon as I read this I thought, this is so true. Mental health doesn’t define us and we don’t do things despite having it lurking there, but rather because it pushes us forwards in ways we don’t even know. People always say that pain strengthens you and yes it’s cliche, but it’s also true. When I think back to before I had any experience of anxiety I was a writer but I wasn’t that good of one. I feel like as soon as I had experienced it my writing improved in ways that I couldn’t have expected. Haig is right in saying it gives you an intensity and a curiosity that otherwise you wouldn’t have. Perhaps otherwise, I wouldn’t have continued writing or wouldn’t have ended up creating a blog and sharing my thoughts with hundreds of people (honestly, I still can’t believe it myself). And maybe that’s just how it works – pain becomes necessary for development. We shouldn’t look down on depression, anxiety, or whatever it is, we should look at it and think: this has lead me to where I am now, even if it has been the hardest journey to get here, because without it, I wouldn’t be who I am.

And so I guess I’m passing on this message through blogging about this because I want everyone out there struggling to feel like I did when I turned these pages and realised that there are people who understand and think like you do, even if you think they don’t exist. That there are people who can help you or change the way you think so that you can seek help yourself.

So please do pick up this book if it comes your way! It’s so so important and there’s no way you’ll regret it! If you have any thoughts on it yourself or want to chat about anything, feel free to contact me 🙂


My Thoughts on ‘Notes from the Underground’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky [Book Review]

As I’ve mentioned previously in my post about the books I’ve read so far at uni, ‘Notes from the Underground’ has been my favourite book this academic year and so I thought I would write a post explaining why. I want to draw attention to all the small sections and lines that really stood out to me because I feel like there are some parts that may be overlooked, but also because these parts are what makes the novel important to me, and actually not just my favourite novel I’ve read at uni but in general too.

As a whole, Dostoevsky’s novel doesn’t really have a plot. Particularly in the first section it shows more of a rambling mind rather than talking characters and the mind’s thoughts on life and philosophy and everything in between. It’s written from the point of view of a forty year old man, and yet somehow I felt a lot of it pretty relatable. For me, it just encapsulated a mind that knows the way the world fools you and a mind that has suffered enough to understand how things work in real life. It just made me think a lot. And I love a book that makes me stop and read a sentence again and reread it again and just want to underline it because it means something. I’m sure a lot of you have had that feeling when you feel like a book has explained something you’ve felt in words you could never have strung together yourself.

I can’t remember who said it, or where I found it, but a month or so ago I heard a phrase along the lines of ‘we seem to like books that we see ourselves in’ and I just find it so completely true. If you ask someone what their favourite book is, it probably tells you a lot about them as a person. We read as a form of escapism and yet we also have this inner desire to read in order to find someone who understand us, and when you find that it’s honestly the best feeling. This book gave me this feeling multiple times and I think that’s why I loved it so much. There’s a lot I could say about it and hence why I’m here sharing it with you all!

[ I was ever aware of the great number of completely conflicting elements within me. I felt that they were literally swarming around inside me, these conflicting elements. I knew they had been swarming inside me all my life and that they were begging to be released, but I would not let them out, I wouldn’t, I deliberately wouldn’t let them out. ]

This part really stood out to me because the idea of ‘conflicting elements’ is so common when it comes to emotions; we feel one way and then another and sometimes it’s hard to know what we really want. It’s this sense of anxiousness that is perhaps rooted within some of us and it builds up and up and it swarms you and yet there is a part of you that can’t let it go – it becomes you, in a way, and you’re scared of what you’d be without it.

[ I’ve never really been able to be anything; neither spiteful nor good, neither a villain nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. ]

The idea of not feeling enough but also not feeling the worst is something that I’m sure a lot of people have felt. It’s as if there’s a stage of being neutral where you don’t really fit anywhere and you’re unsure if your own mind is capable of reaching any of these limits. But then, is it even possible to reach these limits? I guess that’s a whole other thing to debate!

[ … that you’ve no way out, that you’ll never change yourself into another person; that even if you still had enough time and the faith to change yourself into someone else, you probably wouldn’t want to change yourself; and that if you did want to you would still do nothing because in the end there’s maybe nothing to change yourself into. ]

I just love this sentence because it really sums up the act of changing as a person without glamourising it. When we think about changing, it’s ultimately a positive thing. People set goals and aim to achieve them. It’s all portrayed very simply. And yet here Dostoevsky abandons all that and just says the truth, because honestly changing yourself is so much harder than just setting goals and following them. No matter how much you try and change, you’ll ultimately be the same person, and in a way there’s no escaping the deep roots of your personality. Small changes can be made in your life but not to you, the real you. I guess he also portrays the fear of never being able to overcome the most difficult parts of yourself – the parts you hate and suffer from. There’s nothing to change into and sometimes that’s scary – that you as you are right now could be, in some way, finalised.

[ … grit your teeth silently and impotently and sink, voluptously, into inertia, dreaming about how you haven’t even got anyone to be angry against … no one knows who, no one knows what, but despite all these uncertainties and illusions you are still in pain, and the more it is unknown to you the more you ache! ]

This one is probably my favourite passage because I guess it is the most relatable to me. It tackles the notion of being hurt and angry but not knowing why, having no one or no something to blame it on because it’s not really anyone’s fault (or at least not directly). This is a feeling that I get quite often where I just seem to ache or feel angry over nothing. It sums up what mental pain really is – something that makes no sense rationally and yet it feels so real to you. And you want an answer to it so you think up all the ways that could have lead you here and it only makes it worse – ‘the more it is unknown to you the more you ache’ because you feel like maybe it’s not worthy enough of a feeling to be considered, because how would you explain its cause?

[ … he is instinctively afraid of achieving his aim and completing the building he is erecting? How do you know? – maybe he only likes the building from a distance and not in the least nearby; perhaps he only likes building it and not living in it ]

Ahh I love the last part of this quote so much – the way it is written and what it expresses. Dostoevsky portrays the idea of motivation and working towards a goal and yet how once the end is achieved, it’s no longer really desirable. I suppose this is because we’re always striving towards a purpose. We set our whole life out to do something and then when it’s completed we ask ourselves: what’s next? I find this relatable at this moment in time because I feel like this with university. I’ve worked my whole life to get into university and now that I’m here it just feels strange. After university there are no grades to strive towards; it’s somewhat just a steady working timeline. It scares me a bit because sometimes I wonder how I will motivate myself without a set goal. What if purpose dies and I don’t like living in the outcome? So many buildings look pretty on the outside but no one really lives inside.

[ In every man’s memory there are things which he does not divulge to everyone, but really only to friends. And there are those things which he doesn’t even divulge to friends, but really only to himself, and then as a secret. And , finally, there are those which a man is afraid to divulge even to himself … ]

I’m sure this one is wholly relatable – we all have thoughts we share with others and keep to ourselves. But I love the line about how there are some things that we won’t even share with ourselves out of fear; the idea that maybe there are some things we refuse to accept or allow ourselves to feel because we’re afraid of the outcome. If all of us completely opened up to the world, how different would we all be?

[ is it really possible to be absolutely open with oneself and not be frightened of the whole truth? ]

This is a quote I used in my coursework because it’s something that I find really interesting – the idea that there are parts of our brain that are unreachable – and it ties in well with theories by Freud. It’s also scary, in a way, to think that we can’t access parts of ourselves, considering we think we know ourselves the best. If we knew ourselves completely, would we even like it? Would we even be able to cope?

[ I very often looked on myself with a violent dissatisfaction … and therefore I mentally attributed my own outlook to others. ]

I think this quote is quite important. By no means can this be used as an excuse, but it’s important to remember that sometimes when people are hard on you, it’s only because they’re hard on themselves. If you’re the most positive person I’m sure you wouldn’t affect someone in this way. Sometimes people are unkind because of their suffering and whilst it’s not okay, it’s a way to remind yourself that you’re not worthy of those words and to remind them that they’re not worthy of them either.

[ no one else was like me, nor was I like anyone else, ‘I am alone, and they are everybody‘, I thought ]

This is something that at our lowest points is an easy thing to arise to. We try to make connections and sometimes it’s hard when you feel like no else understands you. Whilst not being like anyone else can be a good thing because we are all unique individuals, Dostoevsky portrays these feelings in a more realistic and raw state and I love how honest these feelings are.

So this post turned out to be a lot longer than I intended, but I really did mean it when I said I had a lot to say about this book! I’m sure most of you won’t have read the entirety of this, but I just wanted to document my thoughts on it somewhere. And if it does spark anyone’s interest to read the book then that’s a great bonus. Thanks for reading 🙂

‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi [Book Review]

I’d heard about this book a few months ago – I think through WordPress actually – and it seemed like such an interesting book. It was only until a few weeks ago that I actually thought about purchasing it, after I received an amazon voucher for my Birthday and was scrolling through things I could buy. And I’m so glad I did because I feel like this is something that everybody should read! (and I apologise for the long review but I just have so much to say about it)

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‘When Breath Becomes Air’, to put it simply, is an account of the life of a surgeon who has lung cancer, and it’s very much a true story. However, I’m sure this review will be full of understatements because it’s physically impossible to put into words how awful it must have been to be in that position. This book is the closest way you can get to understanding it I’m sure, without actually experiencing it for yourself.

On first glance, the novel is full of scientific jargon that honestly makes no sense to me and I can see how this might put people off, but it’s so much more than just the life of a surgeon and their everyday duties. The concept of reversing roles from a surgeon to a patient is in itself interesting – I think this is perhaps what makes it so hard for Kalanithi most of all. He’s always had this desire to help others and yet when he needs help himself, he has no control over his own destiny. After being the surgeon in control of life, he then realises that ultimately death is the only one playing the game.

What I loved most about this book was that it wasn’t all about science (because let’s be honest, I’m really not a massive fan of science); instead, there were a lot of philosophical ideas and a lot of talk on literature, as well as specific quotes. It was nice to see how Kalanithi worked within the field of science and yet he was still driven by all these books and knowledge outside of it too. There’s no limitation to his interests like there’s no limitation to knowledge and I felt myself admiring the way he helped people as a surgeon in the form of treating the dying but also, eventually, through the words of his novel itself. It’s two completely different ways of contributing to the world and yet I feel like they both made their mark.

Image result for when breath becomes airThe main theme of the novel seems to be a journey into finding out what makes life meaningful and this is perhaps pretty typical of a novel about cancer, however Kalanithi definitely approaches it in an original manner. I’d never really thought properly what it must be like to be a surgeon – I guess because it’s never really been my career interest – but reading this book made me understand how difficult it must be to be around struggling patients, people who you see at their most vulnerable even though they are in fact strangers to you. One paragraph that really stood out to me was this one:

‘At moments, the weight of it all became palpable. It was in the air, the stress and misery. Normally, you breathed it in, without noticing it. But some days, like a humid muggy day, it had a suffocating weight of its own. Some days, this is how it felt when I was in the hospital trapped in an endless jungle summer, wet with sweat, the rain of tears of the families of the dying pouring down.’ (p78)

The fact that this weight is the weight he felt when he was merely a surgeon, doesn’t even begin to explain the weight he must have felt when he became the patient. And I guess it’s one of those moments that’s unexplainable unless you, too, work around the pedestal of life vs death and face its conflicts every day. But it must feel great to not have to question your work in this way – you know you’re directly making a difference to the world and that’s got to be worth something.

One aspect that Kalanithi struggles with in the novel is the sense of unknown time – not knowing how long you have left and therefore what you should do with this time – and I imagine this must be one of the toughest parts of all. How are you meant to live your days if you don’t know how many you have? Is there a right or wrong way to do this? However I think Kalanithi made the right choices – if there is a right way to do anything. It’s heart-breaking to know that he’d been striving for complete medical success and that cancer prevented this, but I feel like this only made him more successful in his writing career and as a well-rounded person. As his wife says  in the epilogue, ‘this book is a new way for him to help others, a contribution only he could make’ (p224) and I completely agree with this. No one else could have helped others in the way Kalanithi has with this book because he’s an individual person in this unique situation and it would have been crazy to bypass this opportunity when he is such a great writer.

On reaching the end of the book, particularly on reading the epilogue, it suddenly hit me that I was completely aware of the ending; here it was actually happening and yet nothing could have prepared me for it, nothing at all. And I guess, in a way, that’s what it must be like to have cancer or to know someone with it; there’s no way to prepare for the inevitable and that’s what makes it so destructive. But I don’t think anyone could have made such a life-destroying disease into such a thoughtful piece of art as this novel did. It’s genuinely hard to put into words because I came out of it crying and yet I feel like I’ve learnt so much. I just love everything about it – from the way it was written to the way it just affects you and completely consumes you. Kalanithi’s daughter may not remember him when she grows up, but this book is certainly the greatest way she can come to know him.

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Uni (Y1 S1): The Books I’ve Read So Far

So considering my degree lies solely around reading and most of my followers out there probably also love reading (because why else would you have a blog?), I thought why not compile a list of all the books I’ve read so far for uni and what I think of them. Looking back at this semester, it’s actually crazy how much I’ve read. Compared to school, where I literally had no time to read, I’ve now read about 10x the amount of books I would normally have got through. Yes, they haven’t been texts of my choice, but I’m surprised how much of them I genuinely enjoyed – whoever chose them, picked well!

It would be hard to compile this list into some sort of ordered structure – I think there’s too many to be able to put them from best to worst – however I think through my comments it will be obvious which ones particularly stood out to me.

  1. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley – This was the first book I read for the course. As I was reading it, I remember thinking it was pretty boring – nothing much happened and it was pretty uneventful. However, after completing it, I actually kind of liked it. It’s one of those books that once you grasp a particular concept or idea you like and analyse it to its depth, it suddenly makes the book 10x more interesting. This made writing the essay pretty fun, but I can’t say I’d ever reread the book.
  2. The Book of the Duchess by Chaucer – Overcoming the initial language barrier in this book is pretty overwhelming at first! I’d never read Chaucer before so the fact that there was no standardised spelling and every word was pretty much written however it wanted to be written, it was difficult to make sense of. I can’t say I was a massive fan even after understanding it, but it was interesting to read something different for a change.
  3. The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd – This play pleasantly surprised me! Looking at the cover, it really did look boring not gonna lie, but as I read it it reminded me so much of Othello and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Of course, Kyd didn’t take it lightly when it came to killing off characters at the end, but I liked the idea of it being a play within a play.
  4. Politics and English Language by George Orwell – This is actually an essay but I genuinely found it so interesting. It made me think a lot about how we use words and how a lot of the time we use them out of habit rather than out of meaning. Orwell discusses the way, in politics particularly, how speeches are repeated and yet their purpose has just diminished and become simply lazy. It made me think a lot about my essay style and how we become accustomed to using block phrases such as ‘it is interesting to debate’ and ‘one may argue that’ when really these have become unnecessary. It was a very thoughtful read.
  5. The Description of a New World Called the Blazing World (extracts) by Margaret Cavendish – This text was really interesting because it was the only known work of utopian fiction in the 17th century and arguably an example of what we now call “proto-science fiction”. I really liked the philosophical approach, despite it being pretty confusing at parts (there was a lot of body swapping going on) and I enjoyed writing an essay in reference to its proto-feminism.
  6. Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett – This is a very short play that simply revolves around a man sitting at a desk playing back cassette tapes and yet I really enjoyed it. There was something about the way it was written and the way he spoke and was presented that made it seem so real and raw. It’s quite a strange text but I think it wholly encapsulated his depressed state of mind and I loved it for this.
  7. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas DeQuincey – This was a bit of a weird book to be honest. I’m not entirely sure whether I liked it or not. It was interesting to get into DeQuincey’s state of mind, but at the same time he was just such an unlikable and arrogant character. Due to it being a book of reflection, nothing much really happened and I just felt like it was lacking something.
  8. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky – ahhh this is 100% my favourite book I’ve read this semester! I don’t know why, because it’s such a weird and uneventful book, but I just feel like the narrator’s ramblings about life and mentality and truth are just so interesting and also relatable. There’s some particular lines in the book which really resonate with me and got me thinking a lot about the world, so much so that there’s no way I could write down all my thoughts on it right here, so within the next few weeks I’ll hopefully be putting up a separate post. For now, I’m actually really enjoying writing my final essay on this text! And I’ll definitely be reading some more Dostoevsky in the future.
  9. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West – It’s pretty weird that this one showed up on my module list because I studied WW1 for English Literature A Level and as a homework we had to find an extract and I took an extract from this very book! I hadn’t read it in its entirety before, but I’d analysed a particular section in depth so I had a basic understanding of it. Whilst the language in this novella is pretty simple, I think it really works and I love the descriptions of nature and colour. The notion of ‘returning’ physically and mentally is also really interesting to analyse.

As well as these texts, we’ve also read quite a bit of poetry (Ozymandias, Dunt, etc.); short stories (by Virginia Woolf, Ian McEwan, etc.) and a lot of criticism and historiographical material, but apart from that these were the main texts we studied and as you can see from my reviews, I really did enjoy the majority of them!

If I had to pick my favourites, it would probably be those that made me think beyond the book and those that I would say changed my thinking in some way or another. Therefore I would choose Notes from the Underground, Krapp’s Last Tape and Orwell’s Essay.

If you’ve read any of the books mentioned, let me know! I’d love to discuss them 🙂

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka [Book Review]

Admittedly I hadn’t heard of this book until I walked into a taster lecture at UEA and found out we were analysing the opening, however the concept of someone waking up in the morning to find out they’ve turned into a cockroach, immediately intrigued me.

‘Metamorphosis’ is originally German however it’s been translated many times into English. Translation is something I’d never really given much thought to before but it’s actually really interesting how by merely using different synonyms you can create a completely different meaning.

So to put it short, this story is about a guy named Image result for metamorphosis kafkaGregor who wakes up as a cockroach and scares the hell out of his family. To be honest, I feel pretty sorry for him – he’s still himself, just in a different body – however his family, although they try to help, won’t treat him the same way. Thinking about it, this kind of correlates to society’s perceptions of others. We mostly live in a world where we are judged primarily on appearance – they say when you walk into an interview they have decided before you have even spoken – and how often you are treated differently depending on how you come across. It’s weird to think that by simply changing your appearance you are seen as a different person to others although inside you are inherently yourself. This is exactly what Gregor experiences in the novel – he is perceived as an animal and thus, a threat, however he is inevitably the same.

This mind vs body theme also made me think about the book as an analogy of the mind. Perhaps Gregor is not physically a cockroach or a beast of sorts but is perceived that way due to his mental state. He woke up one day, internally ill as such, and yet he is perceived as a beast for what his mind has caused him to do. There is undoubtedly a sense of hopelessness in the novel – he remains passive for the entirety of it – and I guess that’s to emphasise that we can’t control the thoughts of others. No matter how much we feel isolated or imprisoned or trapped within the judgements and actions of others we can do nothing but accept them.

I also read up this theory about the meaning behind the apple scene, wherein Gregor’s father throws apples at his back. It said that this could relate to the Fall when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Eating the apple somewhat created evil in what was made a perfect world and so by the apples hitting Gregor’s back, it is the beginning of suffering for someone who had perhaps felt it undeserved. I just found this really interesting because whilst reading it, I hadn’t thought of it like this.

As a whole, ‘Metamorphosis’ is short and at parts felt slightly slow and unclimatic, however altogether I love the concepts behind it and I think that’s enough to get you thinking more about how it relates to society and the world we live in. Therefore, I definitely think it’s worth a read 🙂

‘Flies’ by Alice Oswald [Poetry Review/Analysis]

After buying the anthology ‘Falling Awake’ a few months ago, Alice Oswald has definitely become one of my favourite writers. Poetry is something I’ve become fairly attached to – more so than I would have imagined seeing as I started off as purely a prose writer. Whilst poetry is also a lot quicker to produce and to read, I also find it pretty amazing that you can portray such an in depth message in so few words. Often I find poetry to be a lot more interactive because of this shorter structure; your mind can interpret the context and the rest of the story itself because not all of it is revealed. And I kind of love this mysterious element to it. We read to take away things but I also love to read to make up things and poetry, in my opinion, kind of amalgamates this.

Anyway, ‘Flies’ by Alice Oswald is my favourite poem and so I thought it’d be cool to write a review/analysis on it where I share my opinion on what I think it means and why I love it so much. I’d also like to know what you guys think so after reading the poem, please leave your thoughts below (unless you’re a hater of poetry in which case I have no idea why you’re still here).



This is the day the flies fall awake mid-sentence
and lie stunned on the windowsill shaking with speeches
only it isn’t speech it is trembling sections of puzzlement which
break off suddenly as if the questioner had been shot
this is one of those wordy days
when they drop from their winter quarters in the curtains and sizzle as they fall
feeling like old cigarette butts called back to life
blown from the surface of some charred world
and somehow their wings which are little more than flakes of dead skin
have carried them to this blackened disembodied question
what dirt shall we visit today?
what dirt shall we re-visit?
they lift their faces to the past and walk about a bit
trying out their broken thought-machines
coming back with their used-up words
there is such a horrible trapped buzzing wherever we fly
it’s going to be impossible to think clearly now until next winter
what should we
what dirt should we


Okay so the thing I love most about Alice Oswald’s writing is that it’s so metaphorical. And if you know me, you also know that I breath metaphors. All my writing is pretty much metaphorical and I think that’s why I have some sort of weird connection to any poetry that also seems to embrace this. I love the way that nothing is directly said and so you can apply your own meaning, which pretty much means that everybody is going to have a completely different perception of what is going on and I just find this really interesting.

To me, the flies are us. you. me. The poem kind of captures this sense of living or being haunted by the past, evident in ‘what dirt shall we visit?’ I kind of see the ‘window-sill’ as being the place of exposure; the transparent glass like a shield from the past – you’re safe from its direct effects and yet you’re still seen; you’re still visible. It’s this visibility that makes the past impossible to forget. You look into the past like you look out the window and you ‘fall awake mid-sentence’ because it prevents you from moving on with your present life.  The ‘curtains’ are reminiscent of a sense of comfort and yet falling from them enters into the realm of the past and a ‘charred world’.

From the way I read the poem, it seemed to me as if there was a recurring theme of being used up – ‘old cigarette butts’ and ‘dead skin’. The past is gone and yet it is claiming back life in what is meant to be used up – trying to create life in something already gone. I think that’s similar to the way we think sometimes – we look back on things we’ve said or done and we analyse them and wish we could have done things in a better way and yet it’s all useless, because it’s already used up, so why are we extracting non-existent energy from it?

And yet even though it’s clearly useless, we do it anyway. Sometimes it’s comforting to look back and this is evident through the questioning of ‘re-visit[ing]’ as if it is desired or is some sort of hobby – or maybe it just becomes an unstoppable habit. The ‘trapped buzzing’ is like this inescapable nature of what made us into who we are today but of which we ultimately see negatively – it’s all just ‘dirt’.

As a whole, I think this poem is so relatable; although we live in the present our minds are always partially trapped in the past and this poem definitely tries to embody this notion (and I think successfully at that). One of my favourite parts (although to be honest, the entire poem is my favourite part) is the last two lines. I love the way they’re set out as cut off sentences as if we become so consumed in the past we can’t even finish our life in the present. And I think it’s a reminder of how the ‘buzzing’ will perhaps always be there, but we can’t let it own us and make a possession out of our thoughts. Otherwise, we do become a fly with lost words and unfinished life sentences.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! I think I can officially call myself an English student now that I’ve just analysed a poem for fun (I mean, who does that?! xD)

I’d love to know what you guys think about the poem so please leave your thoughts below, even if it’s to say you hate it! And maybe I’ll try a post like this again sometime 🙂

Nobody is Ever Missing [Book Review]

“No one likes to be unrecognisable. No one wants to be a stranger to someone who is not a stranger to them.”

nobody is ever missing‘Nobody is Ever Missing’ is a complimentary book I received when I underdid some work experience at a publishing house last summer. I hadn’t heard of the author. I hadn’t heard of the book. If I’d seen it in a bookshop the likelihood of me buying it would have probably been very low. So it’s safe to say I didn’t think it would be my kind of book. However, I was completely wrong.

I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because honestly it is just so full of feeling and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a narrator in a book before. The way it was written felt like you were within their stream of consciousness and whilst some may have found the lengthy sentences too much, I think they added to the confusion of her mind.

As a whole, the book reflects Elyria and her journey to seeking what is missing. Leaving her husband behind without even a single explanation, she boards a one-way flight to New Zealand and flitting between different people and different homes, she tackles with the ‘wildebeest’ of her mind; a symbolic creature which represents her internal pain. As she journeys along, she finds others who are messed up in their own way; suffering on their own accord and she comes to question why she can’t appreciate what she has, why she’s doing what she’s doing.

IMG_3350I love this book simply because I think it just felt so real. The storyline seems like it’s been overdone and lacking originality but I feel like the author’s voice itself is what makes it so original; if anyone else had written it I don’t think it would have come across in quite the same way. And only because there’s so much depth to the writing can it be enjoyed this way. One of the scenes I particularly loved is in the photo on the right, because it’s one of those concepts that’s right before your eyes but you never really think about it. And this book was one of those things that made me think about it.

I haven’t written a book review in ages because I don’t normally have much time to read whilst I’m studying however I started this one and I had to finish it; the fact that I finished it proves how much I loved it. So I’d definitely recommend giving this book a read! Especially if you’re looking for something different and real and to become a part of you.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

“Some people make us feel more human and some people make us feel less human and this is a fact as much as gravity is a fact.”

“…now the only thing that made sense was our shaking chests pressed together because when we were together we were alive and human in a way we had not found in other parts of life…”

“…I am a wildebeest. I am part wildebeest. Of course you’d say, That’s not true, you’re not a wildebeest, and you’d try to console me: We all have darkness, you’d say; but I know mine is darker and that it hides a whole herd of rabid wildebeests and I’m not like you, Husband, there’s no light switch in my darkness because my darkness is a midnight savanna on a moonless, starless night and all my wildebeests are running at a full, dumb speed but I couldn’t even tell you this if I tried because we haven’t really spoken in years…”