Sunday, June 26, 2016

On turning thirty

Almost 6 months ago I turned 30. Sure, this post might seem a bit late and it is. And also is not going to be only about books, but it does touch that subject, so bear with me.
I was saying that I’ve been 30 for almost half a year and I would be lying if I said I was cool with it at first. But then, something happened. The day after my birthday it was like a huge thing had been removed from my chest. Since then, and increasing every day, I’ve been feeling better and better about myself. This has not been an easy feat, because I am someone with issues, trust me. I think we should all accept the fact that we do, but in the meantime let us just be clear that issues and me are pretty much one. But for some reason I wish I could point out, is like I am more and more at peace with having them.

Things at the lab started working. Sure, it meant I had to work for about 3 months nonstop, and by that I mean average 10 hour days from Monday to Monday. Yes, you read that right, all week. It was probably the first time I was actually happy I was forced to learn to drive, because it sure came handy. 

I started going to the gym more often. Full disclosure, I hate exercising, with a passion. But, and here is the big but, I love what it is doing to my body. I started trying to be a bit healthier, since there’s a history of heart disease in my family and I was getting palpitations taking the stairs. Well, that no longer happens, and what is more, I have become stronger physically. I am actually having moments where I look at myself in the mirror and I feel happy, which means the voice that has been nagging me for ages now, is slowly dwindling down.

But I think the biggest change has been on giving less and less fucks about others. Yeah, that’s right, I just swore. While I still care about others I am caring less about what they think. This has brought me to several realizations, from the way I dress to the way I carry myself to letting little and even big things just pass by.

We are talking here about me suddenly seeing the person that has gotten on my nerves for the past 7 years and 90% of the time not caring (the 10% is because…well, you don’t know the guy, but he gets on everyone’s nerves) and just breezily carrying on with my life.

I am smiling more; I believe is because I am a happier person with who I am. As some of you know, I even dyed my hair, blue at first, is now purple, just the tips, but do I love my purple hair guys. And this is a big thing, because the truth is until recently I would’ve never done something like that, terrified to what my family (quite conservative on certain matters) would say or think or whatever.
I am not finishing more books than ever. You would think that it is a bad thing, as in, oh you are having less books that you like. But no, actually I am reading more books that I enjoyed. I just don’t put my time on the owns that don’t do it for me. Less time on bad (for me) books is more time dedicated to the ones that I love, and that my friends is a great thing. And I am actually killing it on my reading challenges, evne though I was working on my thesis.

More recently, and the trigger to this post if I am being honest, I got accepted to go to a conference as I mentioned on my last post. This one I am writing on my flight back. You see, I was a bit scared about travelling on my own. It’s been ages since I do that. Eating alone, walking alone all the time. So I had brought with me 6 books remember? Well, I did finish 2 and I am half way through other 2, but the thing is, I ended up doing something I haven’t done in a while. Being alone, alone. And that is, just with my own thoughts, not even the author’s in my head. 

It all dawned me yesterday, walking alone to my hotel room. Usually when I do this I will have an audio book or music with me, but yesterday it just didn’t occur to me. I had the nicest walk, all alone, with just me in my head. I was thinking about this trip. About how, sure the first 2 days were a bit of an adjustment period, and there is the fact that I got sick the first day (migraine due to the jet lag, I ended up crying with only made it worse, anyway) and nobody really likes being alone when fragile. But the rest of the time? It was a bliss. Having only my schedule, walking to my rhythm…and it’s not like back at home I am not allowed to do this, but because the people close to you are around, you gravitate towards them, which is great, but I hadn’t had time to be with myself in so long I had forgotten how much I like it. 

So yesterday, as I was trolling on Queen Square I realized that I love this thirty-year-old me. This girl, woman, whatever, that started dancing in her room and didn’t care and actually ended up sort off dancing to her own music while walking and not even once did she stop to think if anyone was watching and oh my what might they think?

I no longer care if the book I am reading has a “shocking” cover. I don’t care about wiring this piece and listening to Back It Up by Caro Emerald (great song, go listen to it) and I can’t help but dance on my chair. I don’t care if I am alone in a restaurant stuffing my face with delicious food and the guy in front of me apparently can believe I will finish my plate (oh I did, believe you me). I no longer care if people think my dresses are too girly. Guys…I don’t care.

It would be a huge lie to say that I don’t care AT ALL, because I do. I still like it when people like my outfits, or when I get a compliment or a “good job”. I still care about others and about certain level of propriety, especially in public spaces, because I do like living in a society. But, when people don’t agree with me, don’t like what I say/think/do? I don’t care. You should’ve seen me talking to this guy who was trying to bring my research down. I was so proud of myself, because (unlike the first time we met when he made me cry, thank you very much) this time, I took it all with a smile, knowing that I am perfectly sure of what’ve done. It got to a point where he stopped himself…and it was glorious. 

So, what I am trying to say is I never thought I would be this happy being thirty. Sure, there were some things I thought would be done by now, like my own place (no rent) and finishing my PhD. But I am finally ok with things not going 100% to the plan. I am happy with where I am and with who I am. And nobody can take that away from me. 

I’ve learned a lot of myself in this short trip. Or maybe is not that I learned but that I finally had the time to look inside and see the things that were already there. I have a little confession. I think I should do this more often, this being on my own. We will see. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Waiting for a plane

A photo posted by CaroGomez (@carolikesbooks) on

Hello! I know, I know, it's been almost six months since I last wrote. But I did tell you I had a big year coming on. As of right now, I am in the final stages of my PhD (finally) and today I am writing to you from Amsterdam while waiting for my connection to England, where I am giving a talk!

But enough boasting, let's talk books. This morning...well, I guess yesterday's morning, when I was still home, I was trying to decide what to bring in this trip, and by that off course I mean reading material. While my trip is relatively short, only a week really, it includes long waiting times between flights, some of them already long and most importantly, I am looking at my first time traveling alone since I was 22. And so, I ended up with three physical books and downloaded two audio the time of my landing I learned that another audio book I had reserved at the library was now available. So, yeah, I now have six books with me, one book per day, sure, why not. What did I bring with me do you ask? let me tell you:


I downloaded The Secret History by Donna Tart, a book I've been dying to try since I listened to The Goldfinch. Haven't started yet, but I'm quite excited about it. From my library I got A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. I finished a Darker Shade of Magic last week, and while I wasn't crazy about it (I suspect it was the narrator effect, we will see) I've heard wonders about the series, so I figured, I would continue it. And the other book I received from the library is The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. I remember reading good things about it, so here we are.


I started Woman from Shanghai: Tales of Survival from a Chinese Labor Camp by Xianhui Yang. This is a collection of short stories I've had with me for a couple of years now, and since I am trying (trying being the key word here) to read more of my already owned books, and I was looking for some short stories to take with me, this one was an easy choice. Besides this I took with me Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi and When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My 2015 reading

Hello everybody. Tis the season to do wrap-up posts, and so here we are, or rather here I am, taking a look of what I read this year. Turns out, it was a pretty good reading year, IMO. I thought I was going to read way less than I did, with the final experiments and the article, but no. As we are speaking I have finished 102 books and I am currently reading 3, with 2 ready for the long flight coming my way. So I think I will be looking at about 107 books FINISHED this year. I did have 5 DNFs, highest I’ve ever had, but hey, if a books is not doing it for you, move on, am I right? I also read 29 comics this year, the reason why I am not counting them together is simply that this is the first year I had actually read comics, so to compare with previous years, I decided to keep them separately. Now, let’s take a look of those stats. (*note: these numbers are based on the books I have finished to date, but except for the rating average, most of the stats will pretty much remained unchanged until the end of the year).

Of the books I read, 81% of my reading was Fiction. I did however attain my goal of reading at least one non-fiction book per month, so I am happy with that. The biggest chunk of my fiction reading was in (unsurprisingly) Science Fiction or Fantasy (21%), followed by General Fiction and Historical Fiction. In the case of non-fiction, General NonFic (8%) was the top contender, followed by Memoirs.

Regarding sex representation, 68% of the books I read had female authors and 61% had female main characters, and almost 40% of the books passed the Mako Mori Test, so that was good. Only about 10% of the books had LGBTQ characters sadly.

Most of my reading remained in paper print (58%), but compared to previous years, my audio books were more present than e-print. As long as ownership goes, I am very happy because 60% of my reading came from books I already owned (not that I stopped buying books, but still), followed by 32% from the library.

Language wise, English is still my most read language (84%) due to availability of most of the books. However, I am very happy because my Spanish reading more than double (12% this year compared to 5% last year) and that means I also accomplished my goal of reading at least on book in Spanish every month (I read a total of 13). As far as POC representation goes, 30% of my reading had a POC author with a similar value of POC main characters. This also means that I attained my goal of reading at least one POC author per month (31 books to be exact).

Of my other challenges, I read almost every book from the Sword and Laser book club, except for 2, since 1 I had already read before and the other one I was unable to find at the library or Audible. Sure I could’ve bought it but…well, I didn’t. I also read every book from the Hello Hemlock book club, and did read a Canadian author every month. I also checked this year how many books I was reading per month, just to see if I had months where I read more than others. The answer is: not significantly. This year I couldn’t participate in the fall Read-a-Thon, but even then, my average remained between 8 and 9 books per month.

I am very happy with my reading experience, since most of the books I read had a 4 mushroom rating (46%) and I did have a 28% of 5 mushrooms, which basically means, those surpassed expectations. 

Finally, the last thing I checked was the countries being represented on my reading, either by origin of the author or setting of the story. Every represented country has been colored in this map…see the problem there? Only one country in whole Africa! I am satisfied with Latin America, but even then, I know I can do better. So I am setting my goals for 2016. I will write a post about soon enough, but needless to say, I am going for better representation.

How was your reading year?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Quick Hello!

Hello everyone,

I realized I skipped my What am I reading and the appropriate update of goals and challenges for November. To be perfectly honest, I am still trying to convince myself November is over. You see…for the past month I have pretty much been living at the lab. Experiments are going relatively well and since I am going to spend the holidays (and my birthday) with my family, I’ve been pushing at the lab. And so, I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been reading like a maniac, I’ve told you before, when I get stressed I either bake (I tried my first upside pineapple cake guys, and my life will never be the same) or I read. Well, winter is here and I am doing both a lot. I’ve been keeping active with Book Bloggers International (did you register yet for our newsletter?) and Middle PhD Crisis, but this poor blog has been neglected. So here I am telling you that I am still around, watching you and reading you, just not sharing much. I do have new goals for 2016, that I will try to share before the trip and I do want to make my end of the year update, mostly to see my own stats…I do love stats, don’t you?

Anyway, that’s it, a quick note. If we don’t see each other before, happy holidays!

Friday, November 20, 2015

We that are Left by Clare Clark

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 464

Source: Publisher

Genres: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: October 13th, 2015

Read on: 1st to 12th of November, 2015

I was contacted by the publisher and offered a copy of this book for review. My opinions are my own and haven't been influenced in anyway by them

Thoughts: When I first received the e-mail from the publisher offering me to read this book, they compared it to Downtown Abbey. Now, I have never actually watched the series (cue gasp), but as you probably know by now, I do love a good Historical Fiction novel, so I accepted. I was happy I did.

The book opens in 1920, giving us an idea of what’s to come. But the real story starts in 1910 and follows for the most part the lives of Jessica and Phyllis Melville, two sisters that couldn’t be more different, and that of Oskar Grunewald, a shy, quiet boy that just might change both their faiths. Jessica, the youngest of the sisters, is more than happy with her privileged life, and sees working as a fun endeavour, something to do before finding herself a good husband. Phyllis on the other hand would be called “down to earth”, she wants to see the world, be independent and doesn’t care about going through hardships as long as she can achieve her goals. Oskar just loves numbers and is through this love that he will get to go to university. The three lives keep crossing through the years and as kids turn into adults, passions flare up, love gets a chance and secrets get uncovered.

Clare Clark has a great prose; captivating and she sure knows how to build the environment around her characters. All through the book, whether the scene was taking place in Ellunghurst or in London, the atmosphere created was impeccable. From description of the scenery to everyone’s clothes Clark takes her time to set you in England during the 1910s. The main characters were all interesting in their own way, from the spoiled Jessica, to the stubborn Phyllis, none of the characters was perfect, but they were all exciting to get to know better.

That said, at several points I felt like the whole story was taking too long to develop. Some of the side stories (I feel) didn’t really give enough to the whole body, at least not enough for the amount of time spend in them. For example, and avoiding spoilers, the whole ordeal with the medium, I felt that part could’ve been removed and still get the point across on Eleanor’s character.

I enjoyed the idea of knowing where the story was going to end, but not how we got there. This is a perfect example where is not the destination, but the way there that matters. I knowing what I know about Downtown Abbey, I do believe that people who love the series are the perfect target for this story.