A Summer Of Stories

A Summer Of Stories

It’s official: I survived my first year at the University of Cambridge. I’m now back at home with my books and my parents, trying to ignore the mound of stuff on the floor behind me that still needs to be unpacked, and feeling guilty about my complete lack of blogging recently.

And there’s good news, too. Not only did I survive, but I passed, and with plenty of marks to spare. I found out yesterday that I got a 2:1 overall, with an average of 64, and with my best paper being Old Irish with 70 (a 1st). For those who don’t understand the university marking system, this is pretty good. A first is the best, and hard to get, so to get a 2:1 with my health problems is something I count as a success, especially as I thought I was going to fail completely.

I now have three months ahead of me to spend as I wish, and I’m fairly sure that’s going to primarily involve books, TV, and writing.

#shelfie
#shelfie

First off, I’m volunteering at my local library with the summer reading challenge, where children are challenged to read six library books during the holidays — so far I’ve only signed up for about fifteen hours’ worth of shifts, but I might sign up for more depending how bored I get and how well I cope with the children, ha ha. I used to participate in this programme as a kid, so it’ll be nice to experience it from the other end, and of course, I like my local library a lot.

Secondly, I recently heard the very sad news that my secondary school librarian has died. This was obviously very tragic to me, as I practically lived in the library during the seven years I spent at that school, and the librarian often gave me books that were being thrown out and was very generous in overlooking my late returns. I’ve contacted my school offering my help if they need anyone to reshelve books during this time or otherwise help out in the library, so I’m waiting to hear back from them.

I have a lot of books, but I'm pretty sure none of them covers how to deal with the death of a school librarian, so I'm finding it hard to know what the appropriate response is.
I have a lot of books, but I’m pretty sure none of them covers how to deal with the death of a school librarian, so I’m finding it hard to know what the appropriate response is.

I’m not very good at emotions, and I don’t always know how to process them. Part of me thinks that doing something practical will make it better that she’s gone, and if I can do this, I’m somehow offsetting some of the tragedy. But part of me fears spending time in the library would only make it worse. We’ll see what happens.

My third book-related activity is a little less tragic, although not what people might call fun: I need to start reading for my second year dissertation, which will be on Irish literature (although I don’t have a specific title yet). I’ve brought some books home from Cambridge with me, but I may need to make some visits to fancy libraries in London in order to find other resources during the summer, like the British Library. That could be interesting.

The disadvantage of a weird subject: local libraries have no useful books...
The disadvantage of a weird subject: local libraries have no useful books…

And fourthly, I’m looking forward to having the time to read books for fun, whether they’re new to me or whether they’re rereads. I just finished rereading City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, which I first read in the summer of 2013 — rereads feel very decadent during term time, so it was nice to have the time to relax and do that.

My plans with regard to TV include finally watching Galavant, which I’ve heard is hilarious, but I need to figure out how exactly I can watch that and whether I can do it legally. I’ve also been watching a bit of Angel, although I don’t know how much more I’ll watch before it’s taken off Amazon Prime on the 30th. I need to catch up on Hannibal and Orphan Black, as I’m pretty behind on both, and I’ve been meaning to watch the second series of Sleepy Hollow, too.

Plus, there’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is very exciting to me because I read the book twice and made one of my friends read it and I thought at the time of my second reading that it would be awesome as a visual adaptation like this, so hooray.

I meant it when I said I have a lot of books.
I meant it when I said I have a lot of books. I might have a problem.

I’m sure there’s plenty more to watch — I keep starting shows on Netflix and not finishing them, like Sense8 and Lost Girl (which I started watching simply because I was bored, but it has fae in it, so I’m in). So I shouldn’t run out of television over the next three months.

But then there’s writing. I’ve been meaning to write a second draft of Butterfly of Night for some time now, and it hasn’t been going well. I just couldn’t figure out the beginning, and that was throwing the whole thing off. But I’ve committed myself to writing it during July as part of Camp NaNoWriMo, and hopefully that will provide the impetus to make me stick with it. Between now and then, I’ll just keep trying new first chapters and see if I can find one that fits…

I’ve never had a book cause me so much difficulty before: this one is stubborn, and complicated, and I keep putting pressure on myself to make it good, which is making it even harder.

So, I have a summer full of stories ahead of me. Hopefully I’ll also have the chance to make a few of my own, going away on holiday etc, but for the most part I’m keeping it chilled and low-key so that I can recover from uni, because seriously, just staying alive by yourself is hard work.

If this looks familiar, it's because I took a photo in the same place at the start of the year.
If this looks familiar, it’s because I took a photo in the same place at the start of the year. Voila.

Oh, and I have to learn how to cook gluten free food before I go back and have to cater for myself again. Joy of joys.

How are you spending the summer? Any interesting books on the horizon?

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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