Thoughts on Audio Books

My relationship with audio books has always been… non-existent, primarily because I used to strongly dislike them. You could almost say they were my enemies of the book world. This, now that I think about it, is funny to say because when I was young both my parents read to me before bed on regular occasions. Because they did I grew up to absolutely adore books and reading. I was so much of a book nerd that I was the type of kid that would bring a book with her everywhere she went and I mean everywhere. Quick drives to the corner store, grocery shopping, visiting family, going to get ice cream, road trips, I always made sure to leave the house with a book in hand.

The problem I had with audio books was that I always saw them as cheating. If it wasn’t you who actually sat down with the physical words it didn’t count. I used to think audio book users were too lazy to put the time in to read a book themselves or couldn’t sit still long enough to enjoy the reading experience.

As I’ve gotten older and my daily schedule is busier, particularly during 8 months out of the year, I began to grow desperate for new ways of fitting reading into my schedule. I would stay up later even though my eyes were tired just so I could read for fun. Because of this I would be re-reading the same pages, sometimes even the same lines, over and over again because I was too tired to register the words I was looking at.

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The book that eventually pushed me over the edge into the audio book world was George Orwell’s 1984. I read half of it years ago but I found I could never finish it because Orwell put so much time into description I would get bored. Every year I try and pick it up but I never do it. Desperate to finally finish it I decided I would face my enemy the audio book. But here’s the plot twist: I’m actually really loving it.

Because of how much I have enjoyed listening to 1984 I ended up signing up for Audible’s 30 day free trial that gives you one free credit to try any audio book you want. I went for another book I had been having a hard time getting into which was “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie.

Might I say that this has been my favorite audio book so far! Dan Stevens, who I have know since Downton Abbey, does the narration and does a wonderful job at giving the characters life and personality! His voice is perfect and calming and makes the whole listening experience much more enjoyable!

Looking back on this experience now, I can see how ridiculous I was. I judged something I didn’t understand when really I had no idea what I was missing! Since this new discovery I have been talking to everyone about audio books and their thoughts on audio books. Most laugh at me for thinking it as “cheating” but also understand how.

All this being said, I still won’t say that I’m officially converted to audio books nor will I say that I’m going to become an avid audio book user. No. I like my books and one day I will have that library in my house. What I can say is that, for the right books, with the right narrator I will use them. I can also say that I was wrong about them. I’m still a little unsure about them and a part of me does still feel like I’m cheating at reading but at the same time it has made doing chores, cooking, and running errands so much more enjoyable.

What are your thoughts on audio books? Do you like them? Swear by them? Hate them as I once did? Let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Summer Reading 2017

My relationship with reading these past four years has been… complicated. I read all the time for my program which often means I was reading about 200-300 pages a week. This number also depended on how many classes I took that semester and how intensive they were. Point being, I was forced to read every day, often ploughing through material I wasn’t necessarily interested in, in order to be able to write papers and do assignments.

I had no time to read leisurely between reading for school, doing papers, attending class, and keeping up a social life (among other things). Eventually my love for reading dwindled to almost nothing. I was no longer asking for as many books for Christmas or my birthday. Instead I turned to magazines, manga, and graphic novels to try and fill that void which, at the end of the day, are no substitute to a good book.

I’m not too sure what changed recently but I have finally come out of my reading slump! In order to make the best of this before I start my masters in September, I decided to make a summer reading list of 10 books I want to try to read in the next two and a half months!

38221. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

  • I’m already halfway through this one but I still wanted to put it in here anyways because it’s so good!

3782.png2. Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

  • Another one I already started but still one I want to include as I’m only a few pages in and have kind of put on hold until I finish “A Gathering of Shadows”.

37883. Wildwood by Colin Meloy

  • I started this one last fall but never got around to finishing it and it’s so dang cute and fun I’m really surprised I haven’t finished the entire series already!

37954. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

  • I’ve had this one for a while just sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Even though it’s one of my top reads I never got around to it so I’m thinking it’s long overdue. I also heard they are making a movie adaptation, is this true?

38105. 1984 by George Orwell

  • I’m rereading this one primarily because I forgot a lot of the main plot points and I confuse it with animal farm a lot (don’t ask me how). I also heard that Murakami’s 1Q84 relates to it a lot so I wanted it to be fresh in my mind before I tackle 1Q84.

38166. The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth

  • This is the only non-fiction on this list and this is where you can see my anthropology side creep in. It’s an ethnography but still sounds really interesting and fun all the same and I’ve been dying to read it.

38137. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  • I mostly want to read this before watching the television show, which I hear is getting a lot of good reviews.

37978. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  • I started this one when it first came out (I bought it the day of its release actually) then life happened and I got distracted and never finished it.

38349. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

  • I mostly never read this one because I wanted to reread 1984. Now that I will be, I wanted to get to 1Q84 before I’m swamped in school again.
  1. I’m going to leave this slot open to account for any book I might discover or buy in the next few months. Because, let’s be honest, I’m weak when it comes to books.

 

If you would like to follow my progress, check out the books I want to read, or read some of my reviews, you can check out my Goodreads page here!

Meet my Mind

Upon first meeting me you might think of me as a slightly shy but mostly friendly and talkative person. What you would never guess is that while you’re talking to me my heart is racing and my legs are bouncing to keep my hands from shaking. Once our conversation ends I will then retreat silently away or most often into my headphones to calm my mind and to keep the shaking at bay. If I don’t I’ll over think what might have been a very simple conversation from what I said to how I said it and what I should have said instead.

Meet my anxiety. Yup. Like most 20 year olds in North America I have been blessed with the monster that is anxiety. If you know me personally, however, you will either never know this about me or only have found out about it after knowing me for a while. I don’t really like talking to people about it, in part due to me being a very personal person in general, but also because I fear that people will misunderstand me or begin to walk on eggshells around me. Always fearful that what they say might set me off.

My anxiety has been around since I was young but even still I always felt very comfortable with myself and the people around me. I did gymnastics for 13 years competing in my last four and partook in countless theater performances in and outside of school. By doing performance acivities how could I ever be anxious? Surprisingly, I could.

2011 is where I have the sharpest memory of experiencing a panic attack. I had had them before but never knew that that was what they were exactly. I remember standing in front of my French class full of everyone I knew and all of whom I had stood in front of before. I should have been fine but I wasn’t. This time something was different. My heart raced and my mouth went dry as I dreaded my turn. Once I stood facing the people I had known for four years, something clicked in my brain and told me I couldn’t. It told me my French was awful and my topic was ridiculous. Just as my teacher turned to me to start my knees buckled and my nerves shook in every inch of my body. I collapsed into a ball on the floor in front of my entire class crying and shaking. From that moment on I have been utterly terrified of doing presentations and to this day, I have still never done one.

In early 2013 my anxiety peaked with panic attacks almost every other day. At this time, it had been 2 years since I had moved 2 hours away from home to a big city where I knew no one and was wrapping up my college (CEGEP) diploma while in the process of applying to university. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, and I wasn’t happy. I lost interest in the things I used to love and I hated school. All I was capable of doing was sit on my computer for hours after I got home late at night because I hated being alone and the silence was dangerous.

It was also around this time I met a boy. He was tall with dark hair, strong facial lines, kind eyes, and an adorable accent. For a while my monsters left me as I slowly fell in love. Life was great, life was happy. I’ve read books and I’ve seen movies and I’m a sucker for a good ending and a good romance. So love fixes everything, right? Wrong. Without warning my monsters came back at full force, tired of being ignored and replaced by ridiculous emotions called happiness and confidence.

For another year and a half I tried and failed to make the monsters go away. At this point I was in my second year of university just coming out of academic probation. I had gotten into my last university of choice in my 3rd program of choice and had been failing miserably. In an effort to save my academic career I switched programs into something I was much more knowledgeable and interested in. But my monsters were still wild and just as strong as ever.

Eventually I had had enough. I was now so far retracted into my mind I was depressed. I was still not sleeping properly, I was eating either really poorly or not at all, I never hung out with friends and I never left the house unless I had to. Tired of this shadow that had crept into my life I decided to seek help and turned to the counsellors the school.

So it was. In the summer of 2015 I began this long road to learning to manage my anxiety and panic attacks. I would be lying if I said it has been easy and I would be lying if I said it fixed me quickly. Unfortunately the nature of this mental illness is that it will probably never go away but thankfully it can be managed. I still get anxious and I still have panic attacks from time to time. The difference now is that I know how to handle them better and on most occasions calm the attacks before they take on full swing. I still hate crowds and socializing but I’m finding ways to get through them without incident. I have new friendships and I’ve rekindled old ones. I’ve gone to Europe on my own for 10 days, something my 2013 self never thought capable of and now I will be starting my master’s degree in September.

Anxiety is a strong emotion, but I am stronger. It has taught me more about myself, my capabilities, and ways to love myself including my flaws. I’m a very personal person and talking about this part of me makes me feel extremely vulnerable but I’m choosing to share my story because I want more people to be aware of the realities of anxiety.

In an effort to continue this conversation I have started a new blog in which I will be talking about how I manage my anxiety. The focus will be primarily on my journey of doing my master’s degree but I can guarantee that in a lot of ways it will also be about how I’m managing my anxieties while doing my MA. I will also give a few tips on how to succeed and do well in university and other useful tips to get you through it. So if you are interested you can find my blog here.

 

Thank you for reading! ♥

Quick Late Night Post!

HELLO THERE! Long time no see…

So what’s been happneing? Well, I just wrapped up my Bachelors degree this year and graduated last Monday which was very exciting and very hectic. Now I’m on summer break until September when I got back for my masters. AhahawhathaveIdone! Towards the end of 2016 I pretty spontaneously decided to apply for a master’s degree and got accepted! I’m very excited now that it’s the next clear step for me but I’m also very nervous for the work load and intensity of it. But I’m sure I can do it!

As it is summer now I intend on posting a bit more and this time I mean it. I have posts already lined up and more ideas coming every day. Maybe it’s the new chapter on the horizon or maybe I’ve simply managed to revive something that I was missing these past few months. Either way I’m going to take hold of it and run with it!

What you can expect: some DIYs, more journaling, and hopefully some more of my photography! Maybe I’ll be able to bring back my captured moments project? I have also managed to come out of a reading slump I’ve been in for a few years and plan to do a post about it. In the meantime, I’ve opened a goodreads account and installed their widget in the right-hand sidebar of my blog if you were curious to see what I’m currently reading.

Until next time (which will be very soon)!

The Art Challenge – Week 2

It’s really amazing how time passes us by when we are in the chaos of it. It’s only when we take a moment and look back on how far we have come do we notice how much of it has actually gone by. This is how I feel right now. I started this challenge 15 days ago, which means I can now say I’m half way done!

Personally, this past week was a bit of a weird one for me. My mind felt cluttered and foggy and I often found myself wondering where the days had gone at the realization that they were over. If you have been following this challenge on my instagram then I’m sure you noticed I forgot to post a few days, mostly because the day would escape me and I would my pieces late in the evening.

Thankfully, this challenge was the only normality of my whole week. Without a doubt I knew it would be there at the end of the day and often found comfort in that amid the fog.

As for the pieces themselves, with the week I have been having, I half expected them to be sub-par, done with little effort. Even after having completed some I would think to myself that I have done better or tried harder. Looking at them now, however, I think I made some really good pieces, pieces that I’m proud of, if I’m being honest.

I did notice myself gravitating more towards watercolor pieces this week as opposed to hand lettering ones, with four out of the seven being watercolor. I mentioned in last week’s update that I felt like I could do with some hand lettering basics and knowing that made me want to avoid hand lettering this week.

For my watercolor pieces I tried to break away from what I’m finding most comfortable and try something new and more challenging. As this is a challenge I felt it necessary to do exactly that, challenge myself. It’s easy to do what I already know I feel confident in and how it will look when completed, so to try something I don’t know how the outcome will be makes me nervous.

I’m a creature of habit, so to try something new is very intimidating for me because I’m afraid of failure. So for this next week I’m hoping to break two things: fear of failing and fear of hand lettering.

 

The Art Challenge – Week 1

It’s been a little over a week now since I set out on this challenge and so far it has been going great! I haven’t missed a day which makes me really happy because I also started school again last week and I was a little concerned I would slack once the priorities started up again.

As it is only the first week I can’t say for sure if I’m feeling any sort of improvement in my work but I can say there are things I’m already learning about myself. I REALLY enjoy painting foliage, be wreaths, leaves, or simple patterns I love it. There’s just something so elegant and simple about some of the pieces I have created that I’m really happy with. My favorite so far definitely has to be the white spruce branch I did because I spent so much time on it and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to!

As for hand lettering I’m finding how intimidating it can be and I find I’m actually spending more time on a piece when it’s hand lettering because I spend too much time trying to get things right the first time. I still love it very much and I’m determined to create kick ass pieces in the future but I think I might be due for some basics first. For the rest of this challenge I still plan on continuing to do hand lettering pieces but I think I’ll make them more practice pieces and less something ambitious.

Overall, I have loved this first week of the challenge and it has honestly become one of the first things I think about when I wake up. “what am I going to create today” and spend way too much time during any breaks between classes or time during my commute scrolling through pinterest looking for inspiration.

The Art Challenge! (sort of)

If you follow me on instagram then you’re already aware that I dabble in watercolor painting and hand lettering. Both of which have quickly become hobbies that I do pretty regularly now after having picked them up over the later part of the summer. The more I do them the more I learn that I have never found something that is both so challenging yet so calming. Water is stubborn and free flowing so trying to control it is definitely out of the question. But I like to think that I’m slowly learning to work with it.

If you poke around on my blog or have been following me already then you know that during the spring of 2015 I took a beginners drawing class (you can find all my posts about that here). I can safely say that having taken that class has given me a good base to work with when starting watercolors.

The hand lettering on the other hand has been mostly just trial and error with a lot of copying things I like on pinterest. If you’re curious about where exactly I draw my inspiration from I have a board for hand lettering and one for where I draw inspiration from for watercolor painting.

Although I have seen an improvement in these mediums since I first started over the summer, I’m not seeing as much improvement as I had hoped for. In light of this, I’ve decided to set a challenge for myself by doing either watercolor painting, hand lettering, or both every day for the next 30 days. They say that it takes 21 days to develop a habit so I feel confident that with 30 days it will not only become a habit but also help to show a slight improvement.

If you would like to keep up with me on this journey I’ll be posting every day over on my instagram! At the moment I have three days that I posted in bulk this morning because I only just decided yesterday that this was a challenge I wanted to do. I’ll also be doing weekly updates on here every Thursday and I intend on bringing back my “Chronicles of a Wannabe Artist” project seeing as this challenge could be a seen as a “Chapter 2” to the project. Wish me luck everybody!

Captured Moments – December

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here and that’s poor organization on my part, if I’m being honest. School just hit me so unexpectedly in the last month or so and it consumed most of my life. Either way, I’m on break now and I thought I would take the time to do my December captured moments since we’re hours shy of the new year!

There’s really no story to tell this month because it honestly just consisted of me writing papers everyday and scrambling to get my Christmas shopping done. So all these pictures are ones I took yesterday when I went out for a walk after the snow storm but I think they are pretty all the same and thought I would share the ones I loved.

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This past week, has been rather calm since me and my Dad once again made the trip out of the city to eastern Canada to visit my grandmother for Christmas! It’s been a week of family and food and slow country side life which has been a nice alternative to the past couple of weeks I’ve had.

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If you follow me on instagram then you already know that the eastern part of Canada got hit with a snow storm causing a few of the major highways along the way back to the city to be closed. We decided to stay an extra day until it calmed down just to be on the safe side because you never want to risk snow storms. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad not to be going home.

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Well that’s all for this month, hoping you all had a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for the new year! Stay warm, and stay safe!

Captured Moments – September

School has started again (as made evident by how late I am at posting this, which I shouldn’t be doing because of the many research projects I have due) but I thought I would post my monthly photos which aren’t so much “monthly” as it is “a day in September”.

With school having started, I never really got a chance to get out and take pictures the same way I did during the summer. To be honest I only went out to take pictures once this month, which makes me sad but what can you do when you’re an undergrad. Luckily I have a friend who likes photography just as much as I do and happens to be taking a photography class and likes to drag me on assignment missions with her.

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She was looking for something interesting and different for her assignment and we remembered that there was this old abandoned building of sorts in a park near where we live so we thought we would just go and check it out.

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When we got there we found that the gate on the side of the building leading into the back had been cut open or left open, we weren’t sure, and we ended up just walking right through to the back of what we learned to be an abandoned petting zoo. I wish I had managed to get a picture of it but walking through it, it looked like something out of an apocalyptic film and if it weren’t for the sounds of the city I would have almost believed it.

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We found a children’s play structure tucked off to the side of the main path which to me gave off this sort of creepy vibe about it. Something about the overgrown grass around it and the graffiti and just the overall washed out look of it was kind of a creepy sight. I don’t know how to explain it but anything to do with children’s things just left forgotten always comes off as eerie. It’s also not a style of play structure we see anymore, most things are made of plastic and metal now, so to see one made of wood again brought me back to my childhood.

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Even though not much happened during September this little adventure made up for the lack of fun I’m having now with school having started again.

 

New Favorite Game?

I think I might have a new favorite game or mini game, I still haven’t decided which category specifically I want to place it in, and it’s called Journey. It was originally released in 2012, so I’m a little late to this hype train but I’m on it now! I’m not a huge gamer but I was bored out of my mind the other day and it was suggested that I might like it (and it happened to be free for download for Playstation Plus people) so I thought, why not. Boy am I glad I did.

It’s one of those games that engages you in all aspects of it you don’t want even get up to use the bathroom. Unfortunately as it is a mini game I ended up finishing it in just a couple of hours but at the same time I liked that I played it straight through because it just felt like it flowed better without stopping. I loved it so much I almost played it again right after having just completed it but I decided against it just to hold on to all that was amazing about it from playing it for the first time. But I definitely will be playing it again really soon.

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You play as a cloaked traveller in the desert who sets out on a journey to reach the top of the mountain where you encounter puzzles and collect charges to lengthen your scarf to help you fly. You might also run into other “travelers” along the way who are actually other players, I ran into ten people during my journey and as a person who prefers to play alone I found it rather fun to see them and help each other through some of the levels.

Not only was the story engaging but the graphics and art are so smooth and beautiful I fell in love almost instantly with it. Not to mention the visuals paired with the really wonderful score that had just the right amount of crescendoing moments to make the hairs on your neck stand up. I feel like just as standalone music and if you had no intention of playing the game you would still enjoy the score, but honestly it gives more feeling if you have played the game and especially when you’re playing the game.

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I have included a link to the score here for your listening pleasure if you’re so interested and if you’re a nerd like me who likes behind the scene stuff then you’ll enjoy this particular link because it also had annotated commentary by the composer all throughout the video as well as concept art and fan art on screen.

Overall, I strongly recommend this game to everyone, even if gaming is not really your thing because it’s really easy to pick up and get into. This game gets a definite 4.5 stars out of 5 only because my only complaint is that it was too damn short.

 

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the pictures, they are screenshots I took while I was playing and all the art belongs to the proper artists, developers, and creators.