March Bookshelf: Live Through This Flu

“In a world too often governed by corruption and arrogance, it can be difficult to stay true to one’s philosophical and literary principles.”

Olivia Caliban, A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)

March was a great month for reading and a not-so-great month for my immune system. Continue reading “March Bookshelf: Live Through This Flu”

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February Bookshelf: We Were Eight Years in the Bardo

“The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

I have read a bit less than usual this month than last, but I have a few good reasons. Firstly, I moved into a new flat in a new town this month, and spent several days reading nothing more dense than an Ikea assembly leaflet. Secondly, February only has twenty-eight days, and there really is nothing I can do about that. And finally, I got a great new job! Continue reading “February Bookshelf: We Were Eight Years in the Bardo”

On Safe Spaces and Samuel Richardson

“Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.”

Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Two weeks ago I found myself encountering an interesting pedagogical challenge: teaching a book that centres upon a woman surviving a sexually traumatic event and reframing her recovery by marrying her would-be rapist. Continue reading “On Safe Spaces and Samuel Richardson”

Crabs and Cautious Optimism

Come along with me, misery loves company,
You’re welcome at the home of the blues.

Johnny Cash, Home of the Blues

It’s no secret that the work of a PhD is heavy going. As candidates, we face poor health, financial drain, and the possibility of failure as standard risks for undertaking this type of project. I think everybody begins with a sense of cautious optimism, of which most are disabused by around the end of semester one. But what’s wrong with a little optimism? Continue reading “Crabs and Cautious Optimism”

January Bookshelf: Conversations with Chelsea Girls

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Groucho Marx

I love reading. Which is good, because if I didn’t love reading I would be in the wrong line of work. Continue reading “January Bookshelf: Conversations with Chelsea Girls”

The Value of Vulnerability

“Cheer up, Dad. Did you know the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity’?”
“Yes. Crisistunity.”
Lisa and Homer, ‘Fear of Flying’, The Simpsons
How do I begin to speak about what my viva was like? I passed it, and that should be enough, but for a month now I have been in perfect agony about what that pass has meant, the qualifiers placed upon it, what mis-steps I may have made that precluded me from an even passier pass.

Of Late Tension and Lost Trainers

“I know that you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”

“I think you can in Europe.”

Chastity & Bianca, 10 Things I Hate About You

How do you know if you’re stressed? Scratch that, of course you’re stressed all the time; it’s 2017 and we breathe stress like oxygen. How do you know if your stress levels are above usual, excessive, prohibitive?

Continue reading “Of Late Tension and Lost Trainers”