Books of April

Monday, 15 May 2017

Books to read

April was a shaky month for my reading challenge. I started with a book that seemed interesting on the surface but was really a jumbled mess and I ended with a book I never want to read again. It was an unfortunate month choice wise so I only managed to get through 3 books. Annoyingly, I was actually on target for 5 books in April but that third book made me lose all momentum.

Enough of the self-pity, let’s start with book number one. Eating the Elephant by Alice Wells* intrigued me as it’s written by the wife of a paedophile who killed himself the same day their house was searched for child pornography. It seemed like such an interesting albeit tragic book but, while I did enjoy it to an extent, I found Eating the Elephant to be like reading someone’s diary after it had been torn apart. The “climax” of the story happens right at the beginning and the rest of the book is a messy timeline that didn’t make much sense to me. Eating the Elephant could have been so much more but unfortunately, it falls short.

Books to read

It was my future mother-in-law that recommended the second book of the month. She mentioned her mother-in-law had read this book countless times and had passed it over to her to read. She actually wanted to pass it over to me but had recently given it to a local charity shop and the shop had already sold it by the time I went to visit. Regardless, I got hold of the book and positively devoured it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini* follows the story of a girl born out of wedlock in Afghanistan. Her life is met with tragedy but after forming an alliance with a local teenage girl she once resented, she finds strength in herself to do the unthinkable and ultimately, become the true heroine of the story. I actually felt a little sad while reading this book because of how much hardship surrounds this one character but at the same time, I remained hopeful and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strongly towards a story before. A Thousand Splendid Suns is such a compelling read I really wish I could go back and read it again for the first time!

Books to read

Finally, we have the dreaded third book; the book that destroyed my reading mojo. I don’t know why I read it, I know fine well I detest young adults books and have done before I even hit the “young adult” age. I’ve always found YA books too easy to read regardless of what subject matter they’re covering. They’re not my cup of tea but for some reason, I picked up The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne* and I still regret it.

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting features every cliché to exist in YA. It features high school age characters, the protagonist is a loser who suddenly becomes popular, there’s a boy everyone fancies who of course is interested in the former loser girl, the characters are rich and the mean girls get their comeuppance in the end. This isn’t the Manifesto on How to be Interesting; this is the Manifesto on how to Write a YA Book.

With the exception of A Thousand Splendid Suns, I’m extremely disappointed with April’s reading choices. The YA book was a lapse in judgement but I really hoped Eating the Elephant would be extremely thought-provoking. I guess you can’t win them all but I least I’ve learnt a good lesson for May’s reading; don’t read books you don’t like!

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link. 

Fun Ways to Exercise

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Skateboard graffiti

If the Olympic torch hadn’t made its way through my hometown before the 2012 London Olympics, I probably would have never bothered going for a run. I felt inspired by the man running down the street proudly holding the torch and decided to finally put my running app to use. I got 6 minutes into the run, sustained a shoulder injury and went home to nap. My running career was extremely sporadic until last year when I finally completed the aforementioned app (I’m embarrassed by the fact it took me 4 years to complete a 9-week program) and continued to rack up the miles. While I love seeing my average pace per mile get quicker and my distance get longer, I absolutely detest running. It’s hard and it’s sweaty and it leaves me with a bright red face. There are significantly more enjoyable ways to exercise and also meet new people while you’re at it.

Back in the day, I was obsessed with skateboarding. I couldn’t do anything cool on my skateboard but, while everyone else sat on theirs and rolled down a hill, I would show off my amazing “standing up on a skateboard” skills. I was a little gutted when the skateboarding/BMXing/scooter trend died out so when I saw micro scooters had recently made a comeback, I was rather hyped to see them. I never realised as a kid how much skateboarding was actually keeping me fit but it was building up my fitness level and giving me some serious leg muscles.

I still have a strong love for skateboarding/BMXing/scooters and would urge anyone of an age where it’s acceptable to hang out at a skate park to try it out. Of course, these aren’t the type of sports you can do without the equipment (you could try but you won’t get very far) so head over to Skate Hut for everything you need. Even if you don’t fancy taking up the more extreme sports, buy yourself a pair of skate shoes as they are seriously the comfiest shoes around.

If trying to be the next Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra isn’t your thing, try out some team sports. I’m a sucker for American sports so if you invite me to play baseball, basketball or American football, I will show up and will more than likely take it far too seriously. You don’t need to be as ridiculous as me though; just gather a bunch of friends, decide on a sport and find an open patch of grass to play it on. If you do invite me though, can we play American football and can I be the running back?

If team sports are appealing but your friends aren’t up for it, start scouting for local team activities. There’s been a recent rise in 5-a-side tag rugby and the majority of participants are there to have fun so the rules are relaxed. 5-a-side football is also another great way to get your muscles going and I promise you it’s significantly more fun to play football than it is to watch.

Despite the fact I hate running, I am going to throw a running related thing into this. I’m part of a few running groups on Facebook (if you want to feel bad about yourself, join one and cry over the man running 20 miles at an average pace of 7 minutes per mile) and the vast majority of people in them join in on a park run every weekend.

A park run is typically 5K (daunting but doable) and is held in your local park either on a Saturday or Sunday morning. There are so many people of various running abilities who go to park runs and have a whale of a time. Some people are trying for personal bests but you’ll find most of them are there just to run in a more social environment. There’s no time pressure and if you want to walk, you’ll have plenty of people alongside you doing the exact same thing.

With the promise of warmer weather, the increase in affordable athletic wear and a variety of exercise groups popping up all over the place, there is no excuse to not get some form of exercise into your week. I do my best to ensure I go for 3 runs a week plus a cycle and maybe even a horrendous 30 minutes worth of core strength training but I get that they’re not for everyone. Exercise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you put yourself into a social situation or find a sport that you really enjoy, you’ll never know that you’re actually working out!

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Skate Hut.
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