2020

I know that most of us want to completely forget the past year and focus on a possibly brighter year ahead. 2020 was bleak and even though I was fortunate enough to not be affected by the pandemic in terms of loss and work, I still felt the heavy weight of this year on my shoulders. However I have to say that I have learnt a lot about many different things this year and so I really wanted to properly say goodbye to what has been a pivotal year for all of us.

I tend to only broach this topic during my yearly check-ins and I was really hesitant to mention that this year because it is something very personal. But I have mentioned this before and I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of their struggles – we need to speak out more on mental issues. As I said, I have hinted at this before but I’ve been struggling with my mental health for quite a while now, and I started the year in a very bad place. I had been hunting for jobs during the last half of 2019 but couldn’t find anything. I had to accept the fact that I wouldn’t get a great job straight out of uni, and so I applied to literally every entry-level job I saw. I was in a very bad place financially and I’m not someone who copes well with uncertainty and having no purpose, so this was a very difficult time. I then found a job and it was nice to get a little bit of money in the bank but I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t do.

When lockdown started in March, I struggled even more because I felt like my whole life was my job in recruitment and I didn’t even like it that much. In the day, I would look at CVs, cover letters and job descriptions. In the evening, I would edit my CV, write cover letters and look at job descriptions to get a job in publishing. It was all very repetitive, and I think my brain assimilated the two and I started getting very upset when someone would get hired at work because it felt like everyone was getting their dream jobs but me (which I know is completely ludicrous as 2020 has been terrible for many who lost their jobs and struggled to find a new one). I just felt so sad and empty, I couldn’t even sleep properly anymore.

I was on the waiting list for therapy all that time and I finally got assigned to a therapist in the Spring. It helped me so very much – I can’t stress that enough. It sounds silly but being confronted with your own thoughts and words on paper or in someone else’s mouth makes everything sounds completely different. I realised what was wrong and what I needed to do to let go of unhelpful thoughts. I am still working hard at giving up my old thinking pattern, but I already feel so much more like myself – something I hadn’t felt in years. The NHS is a wonderful system and we need to applaud it – not at our windows, but by voting for people that would fund it properly. I would’ve never been able to get the help I needed if it wasn’t for the NHS, and I know this is the case for many, many people in the UK.

In the summer, I’ve also been accepted into the Society of Young Publishers mentorship program, SYP Into, to help people get into publishing. I got paired with the most helpful and lovely mentor, and I’m so glad I got to meet such a wonderful person during such a grim year. I feel a lot more confident that I can get a publishing job and I’ve even had several interviews since I became a mentee. I also learnt a lot about what I want and don’t want in my career, and I think that’s really useful because when we start we tend to accept everything and that’s how we end up being taken advantage of. Publishing is a very competitive industry though, and it’s been even worse this year, but I’m hopeful I will find something for me this year.

Finally, last year I started this blog and photography again – two hobbies that are very dear to my heart. It’s been a joy to share my love of books on here again. I have taken a break recently because I’m still not quite healed yet and I know now that it’s better to just stop and rest, than desperately trying to exhaust myself and go around in circles. I have spent the holidays with my family in France, which was lovely as I hadn’t seen them for a whole year! I’m back in the UK and in quarantine now, so I hope to be able to bring some nice content in the coming weeks.

This was quite personal, but it’s nice to check-in every now and then. I hope you all have a good year, may it be filled with laughter and great books!

Sunday Post #10

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

I took a little break in blogging over the past week or so. Everything got a little bit too much and I just needed a break. This allowed me to understand why I was feeling so sick of applying for publishing jobs, and as a result, why blogging was difficult.

I’m currently working in recruitment so I basically spend my days looking a job descriptions, CVs and cover letters. After work, I look at (publishing) job descriptions, write my CV and cover letters. As you can see, it feels like that’s all I’m doing every hour of every day and it resulted in having the impression to work ALL THE TIME. Another thing is that my blog reminds me of my love of books, which reminds me of wanting to work in publishing and… ugh, no I just needed to stop thinking about jobs for a little while.

I got my camera out of storage and I’m getting back into photography, which feels great! It’s something that’s forcing me to go outside and explore new places, and it’s something I’m doing just for me. Here is a little picture I took of Highgate Cemetery yesterday:

Currently Reading

Future Islands – Seasons (If they ever adapt The Only Good Indians into a film, I hope they use this song in the trailer!)

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Sunday Post #9

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

I mentioned last week that I had a second interview for a publishing job and unfortunately, I didn’t get it. The feedback was very positive, though so I guess that’s a good thing. I’m a little bit pessimistic because I always get positive feedback from job interviews and I’m informed that ‘it was hard to come to a decision’ but I always lose the job to the experimented candidate. It makes perfect sense but it’s also quite frustrating to know that there’s nothing I can do apart from getting experience. But how do you get experience if you can never get the job? That’s the eternal question. It’s also extremely annoying to hear such positive feedback when I’ve been rejected to the same job for the same company (just a different division) earlier. How can my CV and cover letter be good for one hiring manager but not the other? Ugh. I hate job hunting. But I also feel unhappy with my current job so I need to keep going. Sorry about my rant, but it feels good to let it out!

I’ve read and finished

Currently Reading

Palace – Heaven Up There (This is such a beautiful song!)

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Sunday Post #8

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

I had a very important job interview this week, and I stressed so much for it that I spent there rest of the week feeling like a deflated balloon. I think it went well, and I hope to have a positive update for you next Sunday!

Autumn is truly here in the UK, it was so cold this weekend I had to wear a big jumper. I’m really happy about this as autumn is my favourite season. Unfortunately, we also heard that the Government were enforcing some restrictions for at least the next six months. I’m really worried I might not be able to spend Christmas with my family this year… They are healthy and this is what matters, but I really miss them. Oh well, fingers crossed!

I’ve read and finished

Currently Reading

Parquet Courts – Tenderness

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Sunday Post #7

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

This week was a little insane as I came back from a ten-day holidays (that’s why there was no Sunday Post last week) and I had so much to catch up on at work. I’m kind of the only one in my team so that means that taking time off work is always tricky… I wish I had someone else with me. It was such a crazy way to come back that I felt so incredibly tired and had the biggest nap ever yesterday! I had planned a nice ‘Stacking the Shelves’ post but by the time I woke up, it was too dark to take pictures of my lovely new books so I have postponed it for next week instead.

Speaking of work, now that I’ve let my manager know I can officially say that I’ve been very busy lately applying to jobs in publishing! It’s super exciting and nerve-wracking, and it keeps me well busy during the week. The job market is crazy at the moment, and publishing is even more competitive than it used to be: a lot more people are applying to jobs but there are very few of them. I’m applying to entry-level roles so there are often 500+ applicants (if not 1500+!)… I’m focusing on jobs that match my Operations experience and hope for the best!

This week and the last*

I’ve read and finished (over the past couple of weeks)

Currently Reading

Sly & The Family Stone – Family Affair

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

The Joys of Commercial Fiction

I am not sure of this title. After all, every book published is a commercial object. I can’t really imagine Penguin, Hachette or Harper Collins publishing a book just for the sake of it, without wanting the book to sell well. It’s normal, and I have no problem with that – I’m sure most writers hope to get published in order to live from the sales of their novels. Commercial fiction could really be any fiction ever published, but for some it isn’t; they use this phrase as a politically correct way to refer to ‘low’, ‘low-brow’, ‘cheap’, ‘supermarket’ literature. Commercial fiction is the Primark of books.

Distinctions between different degrees of literature is not something new. Before the eighteenth century, you had the romance and the novel. Then, Victorians really developed the three categories of high, middle and low brow. Now you have commercial fiction and literary fiction.

In general, I would tend to say I read a lot of things, but the truth is I mostly read classics. They are a different breed, because time put a certain glamour over them. When I said I preferred nineteenth-century classics, my mum thought I was being a bit snobbish because classic novels carry a lot of intellectual weight with them. Yet, Charles Dickens was not a high-brow author, he was very popular and everyone knew his stories – even people who couldn’t read because they would hear the stories read aloud to them. That’s why classics are great: they are democratic. Anyone can enjoy them; no matter their background or age.

But sometimes, the refined language of Charlotte Brontë or Jane Austen is just not what I fancy. Sometimes, I want to read a story told in the same language register I speak and taking place in a familiar setting. From September last year, I have only read books for my MA course. I had to think about every sentence of a novel, and read tons of academic books about so and so. This is something I love doing, but last month I felt like I needed a breath of fresh air. Something different that I wouldn’t need to analyse; a story that I could simply enjoy. I went to my local public library and had a look through the shelves, I was utterly lost. I hadn’t done any research and I realised there were so many names I didn’t know, written on the bright-coloured spines. I could have blindly borrowed any book that tickled my fancy and just see, but instead, I played it safe and borrowed an author I knew I loved dearly. Sophie Kinsella. I read her Shopaholic series when I was a teenager, and I have such fond memories of these books, I thought she would be the perfect remedy.

And indeed, she was. I borrowed The Undomestic Goddess, I read it in a couple of days, and it was just really nice. I guess some people would find it problematic as it tells the story of financial lawyer who becomes a housekeeper – and you can’t really glamourise that kind of labour – but sometimes it’s important to take things just as they are, and this is a light-hearted comedy (like Jane Eyre is a love story). I think a book is what you make of it. If you want to read more into a novel, you will always be able to. This book sparked a conversation within me as I found myself thinking about what I really wanted from life – do I want to focus on my career or on more simple things? Is it really so bad to not have a vocation? And then I started to think of all the times I had told someone ‘I don’t really know what job I’ll be doing next year. I’m open to opportunities, I guess’ and their horrified faces.

I am weary of distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ literature. Some books are good, some are bad, and chances are no one will agree on which are what. I personally like books which makes think of many different things, and completely transport me within their stories. Sometimes, Ian McEwan will make you happy, and sometimes Jojo Moyes will. Your enjoyment is perfectly acceptable in both cases. I really wish modern novels, like classics, would be more democratic and unite more than they separate.