Books I read in October

Autumn/Winter time in general- and more specifically the very strange 2020 vibes- have made me want to go back to rereading and the comfort it brings, something that I’ve been making a conscious effort to do less of for a couple of years due to the never ending pile of new books I have, hahaha. I just love the welcoming atmosphere of rereading an old favourite, even better if it’s a childhood book on a cold Winter’s night. In October I read two new books and reread four childhood favourites (I also meant to read some spooky Halloween books but I just wasn’t in the right vibe)

The Black Flamingo- Dean Atta (Physical book, new read)

‘A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.’ (Black Flamingo synopsis)

I didn’t know what to expect from this book because I often don’t really like young adult unless I read it as a teen, just because I often find it cheesy, however, this book is beautiful and I ended up absolutely loving it. It was real, poignant and even made me cry a lil bit. I appreciate that it doesn’t overdo any of it’s themes, but will be very beneficial to a number of people. The prose also makes it very quick to read which I always love as I want to keep going and really engage with the characters. I’d highly recommend this book for everyone. I also love family themes where you can feel the love and connection coming through, please recommend any books that come to mind.

Favourite/meaningful quote:

To have a loving family is to feel afraid and yet believe you are going to be all right.

Don’t.
Don’t come out unless you want to. Don’t come out for anyone else’s sake. Don’t come out because you think society expects you to.
Come out for yourself.
Come out to yourself.
Shout, sing it.
Softly stutter.
Correct those who say they knew before you did.
That’s not how sexuality works, it’s yours to define
.’

Meat Market- Juno Dawson (new read, audiobook)

‘Jana Novak’s history sounds like a classic model cliché: tall and gangly, she’s uncomfortable with her androgynous looks until she’s unexpectedly scouted and catapulted to superstardom…But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous. And there are unexpected predators at every turn.‘ (Meat Market synopsis)

I enjoy/get very enraged reading books about the fashion industry because I feel very passionate yet mixed about the messages associated with the industry. Fashion can be exciting, interesting and obviously has a part to play in everyone’s lives. I have respect for models who are very hardworking and have to spend lots of time in what I can imagine would be a very isolating job at times. However, I am extremely passionate about ensuring that children and young adults do not have to grow up in a world that condemns people for what they look like, promotes weight loss, eating disorders and a negative perception of self image; again, I am not condemning models who are naturally slim, it is not wrong to be skinny and there is too much body shaming concerning tall, slim individuals, however, it is disgusting that the people who work behind the scenes in such industries, and in magazines promote only one image and imply that everybody should have a slim body type that is only natural to a few people. Not only are diets promoted and disordered eating encouraged (obviously not by all), but the fashion industry is also extremely racist, ageist and in many cases transphobic. I went on a lil rant there, I’ll get onto the book now.

This is a young adult book (this is the first month in ages that I’ve only read YA!) and it does well to tackle some of these themes, as seen from the first hand account of the narrator, who herself is growing and learning as the story progresses. It has a number of stereotypical tropes associated with fashion and YA, and at times I felt like it dragged a little bit, however, for the most part it was very interesting with an important message. Trigger warning- this book includes themes of assault and one of the main themes in the second half of the book is the me too movement. I felt like this subject matter was handled well. There are also themes that may be triggering for anyone recovering from an eating disorder or substance abuse. I’d recommend this book if you are interested in the themes, I enjoyed it.

‘Girls’ series- Jacqueline Wilson (reread, physical books)

Back at it with the Jacqueline Wilson books, this is definitely my favourite series of hers, I still find these books incredibly interesting and love the characters (most of them). I find them so readable and they have Wilson’s typical ability to touch on heavy themes in an engaging and almost comforting way. Ellie is such a lovable (if angsty) character and I feel so at home and comforted every time I revisit these books. P.s. I swear I read these when I was about 9, my mum just saw Jaqueline Wilson and assumed they were fine, but they really are more for teens hahaha, please beware of this.

Girls in Love– focuses on the pressure to be in a relationship as a young teen, with darker themes of grooming.

Girls under Pressure– discusses eating disorders and image, background themes of grief and loss in family

Girls out Late– first relationships and pressure with changing friendships. (I hate Russell, good lord what a character).

Girls in Tears– again pressure to have sex, relationships, grooming, friendships and jealousy.

This has been a month where I’ve felt like I’ve read nothing, but I’ve actually read some pretty lovely (and in many cases comforting) books 🙂 I hope you’re well!

Some more of my ‘art’

Thank you everyone who commented nice things on the last post like this that I made, I’ve been painting more things when I feel like it during lockdown (not to get too political, but I will say here I’m Scottish and not happy with Boris Johnson’s announcement at all, I think it’s very dangerous but I’ll not go off in a tangent about that here) and it’s been quite fun to experiment with different little art things (I most recently painted Medusa but accidentally made her terrifying and a bit like the Gladys thing Phoebe painted in friends hahaha).

I painted this beachy landscape last year for my mum. Initially I felt like it was missing something and a bit plain because I’m used to bright colours and abstract patterns, but I think it was a nice change to try something simpler. Any artists reading, please don’t judge my composition, shadows etc hahaha I just do whatever feels fun so it’s never very realistic. This was fun to do but I prefer using drawing inks to acrylics as they’re a bit easier to use and add smaller details.

This was a quick little pen drawing which turned into a strange watercolour collage thing. I think I was inspired by tattoo drawings, I love the look on anatomical heart tattoos and line drawings. I had some carboard to use, so I decided to experiment to make the most of materials and try to be a little bit more sustainable. 😊

This is hard to take a photo of (ignore me waving haha), but this was coloured pencil flower I drew when I was 16 for school (again taking forever, accidentally making it abstract and overall stressing out my art teacher). I love including reds, oranges and purple in drawings. I think this was the first time I added detail through little dots, I do this quite a lot now.

Another school art painting, I’m still very unsure about this eight years later haha but I loved using different tones of brown for the background. Brown is another colour I love using in paintings, especially for collage backgrounds to add an antique kind of look (although it may just look like a child’s teabag treasure map haha).

This was an even earlier school painting using drawing inks, I think I need to invest in expensive inks one day because I’m not sure how I got the pink in the flower to go so light.

This was my attempt at more simplistic, less abstract art for school (to try and reduce my teacher’s rising stress levels), it feels unfinished to me but I’d love to try a sea based painting in the future and experiment with watercolours and ink patterns. 😊 Maybe including mermaids or fish.

I like to doodle little patterns sometimes and I love trying to draw in this style- I’m always in awe of beautiful henna designs and Asian patterns, I think they’re beautiful. It’s quite relaxing to draw using repeat patterns.

This is another old painting that I’d like to recreate one day on a larger scale, experimenting with different colours and patterns to add detail. I’m not sure how well it will go but I’ll definitely try this in the future. 😊

I painted this tiny Winter painting for my mum (and through on some fake snow because I couldn’t resist), I was watching Star Wars at the time which I think influenced the addition of a red moon in the background.

Thank you so much for reading this, please let me know of your hobbies that have been helping you recently, I always love to know what makes people feel happy and relaxed. 😊