The fear of falling out of love with reading.

Before I started my degree in English Literature I thought it was not a thing to fall out of love with reading. All of my life I have loved reading. I have always had the motivation to read.

I am lacking the motivation to read.

I’ve read 28 books since handing in my last assignment in May. One of those books was War and Peace. I think I have exhausted myself with the amount of reading I have done. I have my reading list for first semester of third year (scary, I know) and I am excited to read all of the books but I’m struggling to find the motivation to read and analyse them.

Maybe I am struggling to read because I am intimidated by the amount I want to read before September. Maybe I read too much before my reading list was released so now I am tired. Maybe it was a dumb idea to read a 1200 pages book before the 12+ books I need to read for my degree. Maybe I am not giving myself any free time from working so reading now also seems like work.

I wouldn’t say I am falling out of love with reading; I am just tired. There’s books on my bookshelf I am desperate to read but I am not letting myself because I have to prioritise what I read. Seeing my pleasure reads as a reward for finishing my uni books is possibly putting too much pressure on trying to get through them.

How do you recover from a reading slump?

How can you prevent reading feeling like work?

How do you improve motivation levels?

A beginner’s guide to work experience.

This post is aimed at people who are just about to go into the world of work and are looking for work experience to put on UCAs forms. I’ve volunteered and worked, alongside my studies, since leaving secondary school when I was 16 years old. During those 4 years I have learnt a lot about how to get work experience and how to improve my job prospects. Now I’m writing it down here to hopefully help and inspire some young people on where to start with job hunting.

1. Create a CV.

A great place to start is with a CV. Creating the physical document will help you see where the gaps in your knowledge of work are.

There are plenty of CV templates online to download which can help structure your CV and make it stand out.

Start with your contact details. Underneath that section should be your education history, then your work experience, achievements,skills, hobbies, and references. Presumably you have been in education most of your life so as that is you main achievement, that goes before you employment history. Your referee will be your tutor at school, or another teacher who knows you quite well. Alternatively, just write ‘references available upon request’.

It is important to write anything that is true and makes you look good. You like badminton? Write that down in your hobbies section! If you are struggling to add things to your hobbies sections, join an after school club or start a blog or scrapbook.

2. Not all job vacancies are advertised.

Walking around your local town centre and handing out CVs to shops is a good way to get potential employers to notice you. However, it is important to know not all jobs are advertised. Let me elaborate…

3. If you are trying to get work experience for a future career, search for the job you want.

I wanted some experience working in museums so I tried to find vacancies. When I was searching I couldn’t find any jobs going so I emailed museums instead.

Emailing companies with your CV and politely asking if they have any space for you to volunteer or do a work placement is a good way to search for work experience.

I got the placement because I sent an email. The worst that can happen is that they are not accepting job applications at the minute, or they could not reply altogether. It’s not the end of the world.

4. Volunteer.

When I was 16 I found it hard to get a paying job. In fact, I was 19 when I finally got a paying job. Up until that moment, and still now, I would volunteer.

Charity shops and libraries rely on volunteers so asking them if they have any vacancies is a good way to fill up your CV and to learn vital skills needed for working.

If you are writing a personal statement for university, it looks great when you say you spend your free time volunteering.

5. One week of work experience is still work experience.

So you emailed your CV to a company and they let you volunteer there. However they only offered you a week.

A week is still work experience. Put that placement on your CV. You do not have to write on your CV that is was only a week. Emphasise the skills you learnt during your time there and your CV will look amazing.

 

 

 

From the archive: My experience volunteering at a festival.

First published: 30/07/2013

I am slightly off the literature topic, but I feel as though this is important. This year has been the first year I have volunteered at a music festival and I want to document my experience and share it with you all.

For years I have been a music lover and attended local festivals and gigs dreaming of what it would be like to be caught up in the action. Two years ago, I decided I will volunteer at a festival when I was old enough with a friend and enjoy the privilege of a free festival ticket. As part of my current job, I received the opportunity to help out at a festival my work run and it was a great experience.

The days never had a dull moment as I did a variety of jobs ranging from the box office to glass collecting, photocopying to entertaining people and so much more. It was amazing viewing a festival from a different perspective and gaining lots of experience.

On the final night, I was sat on a hill watching the headline act and reviewed my experience. I’ve accomplished something I dreamed of doing and I had so much fun doing it. My advice to anyone who enjoys listening to music or the atmosphere of a festival is volunteer. It is an experience I will never regret and will always remember and I think it is a great opportunity for anyone who can get it.

From the archive: Atonement book review.

First published: 27/06/2014

 

Considered to be one of his best works, Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement highlights the tragedy and harm that comes from lying.

Just a few years before the outbreak of World War Two, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis has finished her debut play titled The Trials of Arabella. While waiting for her older brother and his companions to arrive for a meal in her country house, Briony observes a private act she should not have witnessed. To her shock, Briony sees her sister Cecilia with the family maid’s son, Robbie Turner, next to the garden fountain where Cecilia strips off her clothes and dives into the fountain while Robbie watched. This event changes Briony’s view on the world and ultimately transforms the lives of all the people involved in the fountain affair.

Later that day, Cecilia and Robbie become victims of Briony’s naive, but wild imagination. The young girl holds the power to determine Cecilia and Robbie’s future and spends the rest of her life trying to atone.

McEwan’s novel is split into four sections, which take place in different time periods to emphasise the prolonged effect caused Briony’s vocal mind. Within Part One of the novel, McEwan interestingly changes his narrative voice to several of his characters and presents their perspectives on single events throughout the chapters. Beautifully, the variety of narrative voices intertwine and illuminate the blindness characters may feel when viewing a situation and not knowing all sides of the story.

Atonement was written in 2001, however the scenery and way of life presented at the start of the reminds the reader of an Austen novel. Although to begin with it seems that McEwan may go down an Austenesque route, he modernises the concept by the use of vulgar words that are more fit for contemporary texts and is writer’s craft removes the sameness that could be received from a Nineteenth century novel. McEwan also touches upon World War Two and instead of focusing on the actual battle, he chooses to describe the horrors soldiers went through and the representation of home, which is a refreshing approach in War literature.

Overall, Atonement is a beautiful and tragic novel which can be loved by a variety of age groups. However, it should probably be recommended to a 16+ audience due to its mature content.

From the archive: Palma Violets gig review 2012.

First published: 17/02/2014

I wrote this review for a magazine competition.

Palma Violets

Westgarth social club, Middlesbrough

11/10/12

The Westgarth is home to undiscovered bands before they get big. Tonight one upcoming band kept to the tradition. With an audience of over excited teenagers and curious club regulars, the crowd was spread through a variety of ages. Naturally, the young ones were as close to the stage as they could possibly get creating a claustrophobic atmosphere for the band while the older members of the audience loitered around the bar at the back. After two support bands, Palma Violets hit the stage. Instantly the crowd was electric, everyone connected jumping up and down to every upbeat song they played. Finishing the set with current single “Best of Friends” everyone suddenly went wild resulting in a near disaster involving the stage lights. Palma Violets know how to get a crowd going whether you know all their songs or none at all. 2013 is going to be their year.

Revised note:

17/02/14

I was right, 2013 was their year. On February 25th, the debut album 180 was released and received an amazing 8/10 from NME magazine. As well as praise for their album, they later went on to win an NME award for “Best New Band” and held a comfortable slot on the NME/Radio 1 stage at last year’s Reading & Leeds festival. During Palma Violets album cycle, I went to see them perform at a slightly bigger venue than the Westgarth. The size of the venue was no problem as they easily filled it and the crowd were as electric as the night in 2012. Palma Violets are the live band to go and see. Their spark won’t fizzle out any time soon.

From the archive: Submarine book review.

First published: 21/04/2013

Submarine is a coming of age novel that could be compared to “The Catcher in the Rye.” Oliver Tate is a 15 year old boy who is eager to lose his virginity before he is legal. He finds love in the form of Jordana Bevan- a mysterious girl with a love of setting things on fire. In the meantime, Oliver needs to save his parent’s marriage, survive his GCSEs and decode the intentions of his mother’s capoeira teacher who is “a hippy-looking twonk.” Embark on an adventure with Oliver and his extended vocabulary.

Dunthorne has created a light-hearted, laugh out loud novel that also touches on a few serious matters. You will laugh and cringe over the things Oliver Tate thinks and says and you will learn to love him. I read this book last year on holiday and it is the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

In 2010, Richard Ayoade (I.T Crowd) directed the film adaptation of the novel. It is not a disappointment and is hilarious. Craig Roberts stars as Oliver Tate and does a perfect job of doing so. Personally I think nothing can beat the book, but the film is still amazing and has an incredible soundtrack created by Arctic Monkey’s front-man Alex Turner.

If you haven’t read the book, read it now. Yes, now. You will not regret it.

From the archive: Killing Bono book review and film comparison.

First published: 11/04/2013

Killing Bono reveals the story of Neil McCormick who lives his life as Bono’s doppelgänger. Growing up in Ireland alongside his classmates, U2, he has desired the fame and fortune that comes with living life on the silver screen. However, while U2 are going up and up, Neil’s attempt of a career fails. No matter how hard he tries to become the biggest selling rock artist the world has seen, he ends up being knocked down after each attempt to make it.

Neil McCormick’s story is hilarious and as the Daily Telegraph put it, “envy may be a sin, but it is a godsend for drama.” You don’t need to be a fan of U2 to enjoy this book, anyone can pick it up and be able to connect to Neil. It also gives great advice to people who want to make it in the music industry – that it is not an easy sail and shows how bitter it can be. You will connect with Neil, despite his upfront personality, and you will want to cry and laugh with him through his struggles in life. Introduce yourself to the land of sex, drugs and rock&roll and take an adventure through the past three decades.

In 2011, Killing Bono was released as a film starring Ben Barnes and Robert Sheehan. For entertainment purposes, it does not necessarily follow the storyline of the book, but it is loosely connected. It would be hard trying to fit the whole story in a 2 hour film. The film Killing Bono is a great comedy and has a brilliant cast of actors playing the real life people in Neil’s story. I recommend both the film and the book for any music fans.