Wednesday, 6 December 2017

FEELING CRAP: Teacher Trauma - My experience.


So this still isn’t a book related post, but I will get to them one day, I assure you. I just have some things that I think are a bit more important to talk about right now, namely; teacher trauma.

Now I didn’t come up with that term, my lovely trainee teacher friend did, and it sums up exactly how I feel after coming out of working in the education sector. I started working in education in February 2017, then stopped at the end of July 2017 with the resolute decision that I would never ever go back. How could I make such a strong decision in just 5 months? Well, that comes down to the last month or so of my time in education, in that was so bad, it’s made me fear the thought of ever working a school work environment again.

Now I’m sure people are reading this thinking “seriously? aren't you being a tad over-dramatic?” and to that I say: are you fucking serious? Have you been in a modern secondary school? Have you been in a struggling secondary school? No? Then please keep your opinions to yourself until you've read the following, then tell me what you think. Cheers.

Trying to explain to someone what it’s like to work in a school when they themselves haven’t is exceptionally hard; if you work in a conventional workplace and a fellow worker or customer harasses you, you can, (in most cases) report the issue and have some sort of concrete resolution with said perpetrator facing fitting consequences. Having the same happen in a school is a completely different and more challenging prospect.

For one, in another work environment you can, not exactly, expect rudeness, harassment or even violence, but it isn’t so ‘surprising’ coming from full grown adults who decide to take their anger or frustrations out on you. However, when this same level of aggression is directed at you from a child no older than 13 and who is bigger than you? It’s all kinds of terrifying.

In this sort of situation with an adult you have various ways to defend yourself if need be, such as walking away or having said aggressor removed from your vicinity.  With a child however, no matter how violent or unruly they may get, their well-being is, as it should be, the most important factor in the situation, as well as that of the other children in the classroom. There isn’t the option to just walk away when a child is screaming obscenities or throwing stuff at you because they don’t want to sit where you ask them to. You have a duty to them, and the other students in the class, to create a safe environment, even if this means being told you are a “stupid fucking bitch” so loudly that it still rings in your ears when you’re on the train home.

I had the unlucky fortune of having a ‘perfect storm’ of behavioural issues, unmotivated students, a lack of resources or information, as well an absence of the necessary support team I was supposed to have due to staff shortages. Adding to this was the fact that my students had had various supply teachers over a short space of time due to staff disputes, timetabling issues, and pay, (things I found out only after accepting the position).  My students had no consistency, no permanent teacher, and had been recycled the same scheme of work repeatedly as nothing else had been prepared for them.

Essentially, on top of having classes that were filled with low-ability, low-motivated children, many with behavioural and mental health issues, I had children who felt abandoned and unsupported. Amidst the conflicts I had with some of my worst students, they did open up to me saying that it was nice having someone for more than one week; even though during those weeks they did give me hell, I appreciated their apparent sensitivity to the issue.

So really, with this storm having brewed for many weeks, (and the added joy of hindsight), it should have been no surprise that I was met with the issues I had. I started on my first day with absolutely no induction, no guidance, no computer login or given any semblance or idea where the “prepared scheme of work and lesson plans” I was promised, were.

When discussing whether to take the role, I was promised that I would have use of a full scheme of work fully prepared for me with every lesson planned. This was especially comforting as I had little supply experience, and no formal teacher training; I did say to said employer "you do realise I've only been in education for a few months, and just as a TA right?" because as much as I needed the money I didn't want to be in a position where I was fairly unqualified (well, we all know how that went). I was assured that this was totally fine, the work was prepared, I just had to present it, essentially a slightly more involved version of my TA work.

So my readers, I took the job. It sounded lovely, the work was already in place, I just had to present said work to my flock of willing learners. Well, safe to say that the scheme of work I was proffered could barely constitute work for a minute of lesson time, let alone 5 weeks. I had to rely on a lovely NQT to help me during that first week to string together some semblance of a body of work, before she too left. I now had some idea of how the children felt; I was alone, abandoned, left to scramble together something of substance from the bare scraps left for me in the shared resources. Easy this was not. 

The children, sensing I was very new, very young, and very very lost, took advantage like every child does in the wake of a supply teacher; sitting where they liked, giving me fake names, shouting and throwing things and all round being the typical rowdy class all supply teachers live to expect. I anticipated this, put on my best stern voice and quietened some, but I was small fry to some of the more disruptive students. I had a student, within 10 minutes of our 2 hour class, have to be escorted out and placed in isolation, for the entirety of the school day, for making such nasty comments that I felt like crying on the spot. This had all happened by 9 am.

Oddly me and this student did end up having a decent relationship and rapport going on, and he eventually opened up to me about his behavioural and anger issues. A lot of my lesson time with him was spent trying to placate his hyperactivity and stop him injuring himself whenever he became angry, but underneath I realised that he was a child who was struggling and wanted to learn, but felt like his teachers never gave him a chance. This created a vicious cycle of bad behaviour, missed lessons, and further strained relationships with his teachers, something extremely common with my students.

I ended up spending the majority of my very short lesson time dealing with this boy and other students like him who had greater educational and behavioural needs than I could ease single-handedly, as well as damaged relationships with authority. Had I been prepared for this? No. Had I been warned about this? Definitely not. I had been sold a pipe-dream, one that didn't come even come close to fruition. 

It was at lunch time at the end of my first week, just before a meeting with the acting school principal to discuss my experiences so far, that I broke down sobbing on the phone to my boyfriend while hiding at the back of my classroom. Not only had two students had a violent altercation in my class, flinging each other into furniture and other students, I’d been subject to one child screaming that I was a “fucking bitch” and other such expletives and personal jabs after I politely asked him to calm down. Another felt it was fine to subject me to aggressive intimidation, as well as relentlessly tormenting me in a hostile manner, and egging other students to do the same (of which some did). I was at my wits end, ready to leave and to never look back.

I had expected bad behaviour, I'm not entirely naive, but the level of aggression and intimidation I faced on just my first day was more than I had ever faced at my entire time at my previous school; it was unprecedented and terrifying. 

I voiced my concerns to the acting principal; that I had been given no guidance or information regarding their strict discipline procedures; that I had no time to plan lessons as on top of a full-time teacher’s hours I was also placed on various other supply work (that I had not agreed to), as well as the level of abuse students were subjecting me to.

The acting principal was courteous, apologetic, and arranged for a member of the behavioural team to meet with me to discuss the behavioural procedure as well as to assist in some of my larger and more challenging classes. She also promised to remove me from the supply rota for this second week to allow me to have time to come to terms with my lessons, students, and the general running of the school.

I set off home hopeful, promising to give the school another shot, because surely all of my issues would now be solved, and things could only get better, surely?

From the start of that second week I knew things had not changed. I was booked for a full day, with only the short time at break and lunch (just under an hour) to plan lessons as well as rest and digest the days events. This was to be the same for the rest of my stay at said school; me, managing a full timetable on top of covering subjects I had no expertise in, (often with no set cover work); working with difficult and struggling students, (with no real idea of the strict disciplinary procedures), with none of the support I was promised. Oh, and the behavioural person didn’t get the chance to come and see me till two weeks later, and couldn’t assist in any of my classes as she too was placed on constant cover.

At this point it can be forgiven for thinking “uh, why didn’t you just leave if it was so bad then?” because I’m sure most sane people would, but you might understand why I couldn’t when I give you the context at the time.

Before working at this school, I was at another school as part of a teaching agency from February to June. In all the ways that my last school ruined me, my first school nourished. The experiences I faced in these schools were the epitome of chalk and cheese, I felt valued and respected at my first school, and at no point did was I left unsupported or uneducated. Sadly, the placement was only temporary and on one Tuesday in mid-June I was told that they no longer needed me and my last day would be that coming Friday.

Up until this point I had been working under the assumption that I would be staying until the end of the school year, moving from helping the now absent Year 11 students to the Year 10’s; this was also the assumption of the English Department whom I was paid to assist explicitly. To be told that I was in fact not to be staying, and only had three days left, was undeniably shocking, and especially hard after given I had only recently returned after the death of my Nan. Yep. It was a bit of a low blow.

Not only did I have no ability to say goodbye to the students that had made my time at the school so rewarding and, dare I say it, immensely fun, I was essentially losing over £1000 worth of wages that I assumed were a given.

So, I was to be unemployed as generally no schools hire with just 5 weeks until the end of term. I was freaking out, I was losing £1000 that I thought was a given so had not lined up a summer job, assuming I would start working again in the new school term in a brand new school. In desperation I turned to LinkedIn, and through sheer luck the head principal of my last school contacted me saying they were desperate for a English supply teacher and could hire me at a higher rate that coming Monday! Yes, really!

My prayers were answered, I’d still have a job till the end of term and could go into the summer holidays without worrying financially and wait until my agency could find me another placement for September. I accepted that it would be a little tougher, it was in Essex and would take quite a long commute but I’d not be struggling without over a month’s wages, so it was worth it to me.

Oh how wrong I was.

I stayed at the school despite how hard I found my time there namely because I needed the money, but also a sense of guilt towards the students that would feel displaced if I upped and left like all those before me. I guess it’s another one of those cases where me being selfless hasn’t worked out the best for me, but I have a ridiculously high level of guilt radiating throughout my system so it really wasn’t a surprise. 

So I grit my teeth, thought “just get through it week by week, it’ll be over before you know it”. I had drawn out a countdown of the days and lessons I had left till the end of term, and I always felt a great amount of relief filling those crudely drawn blocks in with my collection of clunky highlighters. I made very sure that I used only the brightest of colours, perhaps thinking that somehow making the whole thing bright and cheery would magically make the whole situation much less awful than it really was.

For 5 weeks I awoke at an unseemly hour, attempted to repress my rising anxiety, dressed, walk to the station, get on the train, walk to the school, battle through whatever challenges I faced that day, go home, eat dinner, battle with the tension that had built up during the day, then try to sleep. Every day on the way home I would look at my timetable and see which classes I had the next day and weep, either with joy that I didn’t have the class with the student that was voraciously after my blood, or in fear that I had two hours with students who thought nothing of hurling obscene levels of abuse and various items my way.

I woke up scared, I went to school scared, and I went to sleep scared, dreading waking up the next morning and facing an environment akin to being dropped in a pit full of hungry lions while wearing a suit made of prime cuts of steak.

I’m guessing this is the point where people will read this and say “well clearly you let them walk all over you, did you bother to discipline them?” Ahh yes, sorry, I didn’t think of that, how silly of me! Discipline, how could I forget it?

I am being sarcastic, deeply, bitterly sarcastic because I tried with everything had to discipline students who didn’t give a damn about what happened to them. Detention? I had to book it for the next day, and the students knew that if they didn’t turn up the only trouble they would get was…another detention. Plus, I wasn’t allowed to keep them in at break or lunch, so the immediacy and seriousness of a detention was duly lost and students acted without consequence knowing my power was limited. What about calling parents? Near on impossible given I had no time in which to call them, unless I sacrificed my already fleeting break times which I needed to be able to digest what had happened so far that day and attempt to dampen my anxiety and adrenaline levels. The system in place was ineffective at curbing bad behaviour and served not as a deterrent, but a system for students to exploit to their own means, namely to disarm me. 

I noticed that, when I had the school sold to me on that initial phone call, that I had fallen prey to the outward image that it was trying to project. So much was spent on trying to make the school look and sound good including; ensuring staff dressed business formal (with the best dressed faculty winning a highly coveted award!); an emphasis on how I would not just be a teacher, but a facilitator for the schools innovative engagement between staff and student; and giving the faculties names that were buzzword misnomers like INSPIRE, SUCCESS and TEAMWORK*, like a crude nouveau-business mockery of EAT, PRAY LOVE.

*Disclaimer: Not the actual names.

Spending so much time dictating the school like a modern business with an emphasis on its outward appearance meant that it ended up lacking in the essential support needed within its classrooms and the greater student experience. And what does this result in? Students who do not respect the school they are in, care little about the repercussions of their actions, and act out because they don’t aspire to do well as they cannot get the help needed to do well.

I will say that I am not excusing the far from auspicious behaviour of said students, but that it is no surprise that some acted the way they did when they had no wider support system to help them with their academic or personal issues. Students should always come before corporate dealings or behaviours, but it felt like the neediest of children were being left in the dust, and so acted the only way they knew how: with frustration, disruption, and destruction. Classic attention seeking tactics that sadly did more to sabotage themselves than get them the level of help and dedication they craved.

Due to numerous failings I came into a toxic environment that meant that students as young as 11 saw nothing in swearing violently at me, throwing stuff at me or at the worst, threatening violence towards me. Hearing a child mutter under their breath that they would “smash [my] face in” is terrifying, especially when you’ve previously had to break apart said child in fights so know that they probably could beat the shit out of you if they so wished.

A child threatening to hurt you, another throwing an object so hard that it bounces back half way across the room after missing its target i.e. you, another taking the opportunity to scream at you at the top of their lungs with such foul and abusive language that you still can’t get said image out of your head, all because you asked if they could move to sit with their less distracting friend. These are the experiences teachers across the UK face, and yet people don’t seem to realise how are teachers are prone to facing traumatic situations like these every single day.

On top of this I faced disgusting behaviour from higher levels of staff, namely being ignored and, when acknowledged, addressed in a condescending manner after initial friendliness, which I now assume was to keep me ‘sweet’. I was also lucky to be mentioned in a scathing status made on a social media platform by a senior member of staff in which I, as well as other staff, were belittled on a very public, very career pertinent site, and subject to the judgement of various strangers who gleefully joined in the slanging match of criticising the “poor quality of supply teaching these days”.
Going on this site and seeing this made my heart sink, the person who had initially sought me out was laying me out to criticism and ridicule. Thankfully he kept names anonymous, but it was clear from discussions made with fellow disgruntled staff members on the final days of school that it was obvious whom he was referring to in the status, and one of them was me.

What I am grateful for was the amount of support other staff showed me, and another teacher unfairly picked out for criticism. It came clear to me on my last few hours within this school that my feelings and attitude were not unique and reflected in most staff I met. I only wish I had known this sooner, it perhaps may have gone somewhere to preserving my sense of self that was ultimately shattered by my experiences there.

After having sat through two long assemblies bestowing plaudits upon fastidiously picked teachers for their time and effort throughout the year I went home with the love of my fellow humanities department, the I.T crew, and other staff who had heard of my social-media quandary and general experiences, and wished me all the luck in the world.

From the higher staff? No thank you or sense of appreciation, just the lingering feel of their apparent disappointment and a burgeoning feeling of my inadequacy and incompetence, clearly demonstrated in their behaviour towards me, because who acts in such a way to someone who doesn’t deserve it, right?

I left the school with a mighty weight on my shoulders. I had taken the position from being supposedly successful in my last placement, but this had taken away the romantic sheen of my previous work and to me showed the ugly truth: I was shit. I was utterly shit and really crap at this education thing and was absolutely bloody useless. I had let these children down, I had let the school down, I had deserved every swear word, every act of aggression sent my way. This school had unearthed the cold hard truth that I was an imposter, I’d gotten lucky at my old school and now, faced with reality I was unable to cope and failed, badly, taking many people with me.

It is no surprise to me that I leaped into doing my Masters studies, the study of literature is something I know I am good at, and after the near literal bollocking I faced I needed to convince myself that I was still good at something, anything. But even this is marred by my experiences.

My confidence had, and still is severely devastated since working at said school; the faith I have in myself and my work has plummeted so low that I even struggle to feel fully confident in my studies, something I should have confidence in but I have an inner conflict towards; I thought I worked well in a school and I was proven wrong, so maybe I am actually bad at understanding and analysing literature and I’m nowhere near as good as I thought, perhaps my brilliant performance at university was a lie.



It was only a short time ago when, talking to my friend who has just started her teacher training, about my fear of returning to education, and the impact the last school had on me that she mentioned the term teacher trauma. I had never thought of what I had been through as traumatic as I had been pushed towards feeling that it was a result of my ineptitude, so was therefore was deserving of what had happened; it felt that I didn’t deserve to feel as upset and effected as I did because I had brought it on myself.

It was only when my friend discussed her first month as a new teacher and all the trials and tribulations she faced that I had an epiphany: she was having the same experience I was having, she was dealing with the same stuff I had as a new teacher, and so where others she knew, I hadn’t gone through something unique, what I had been through was normal and typical for a new teacher. The kids were not reacting to my individual incompetency, they were reacting as all kids do when faced with someone new to full-time teaching.

I was not at fault and in fact, my further experiences with patchy schemes of work and discipline etc. were also the same. I was not at fault.

I WAS NOT AT FAULT.

I didn’t tell my friend precisely how meaningful her words were to me, (I’m notoriously bad at expressing my emotions verbally), but inside I felt an almost literal shift as the guilt and notions of disappointment I had been carrying for far too long slipped away.

I imagine she might read this, if she has time (teachers are far busier than you think), and if she is I want to say thank you to a wonderful friend who helped me more than she may have realised.

It’s almost fitting that there’s barely anything about teacher trauma online, with one study-cum-article I did find on the subject from 2015 stating the following:
Although research has examined secondary traumatic stress (STS) among mental health workers, child welfare workers, and other human service professionals, such examination among public school teachers has only recently begun.*
*Source can be found here

The fact that the idea of teacher trauma didn’t immediately come up upon my search shows just how neglected it is as a concept, which is deeply troubling. While I may have come to some understanding and acceptance that what happened at my last school was tremendously wrong, the combined effects of my experiences with both staff and student still follow me to this day, much like any trauma you may face.

I’m currently employed in the food retail sector, (a huge change form my recent employment), and I found that the experience of job hunting had been blighted by the multitudinous range of emotions that the job seeker is privy to: hope, joy, fear, intrigue, disappointment, anger, and so on. This, mixed with the trauma I faced made the experience of job hunting traumatic and difficult in itself.

As I’ve said previously, the trauma I faced in education has ruined any semblance of self-worth or confidence I have in myself; combined with the up and down nature of job hunting I’ve been struggling lately with the feeling that I’ll stagnate and get nowhere near where I want to in life. I was applying for jobs that I was overqualified for and ignoring jobs my family and friends told me I would be a good candidate for, but I couldn't contemplate as being possible as, even with the realisation that I didn’t deserve what happened to me, I could not shake the feeling of being wholly inadequate.

I am pragmatic and know that my sensitivity to the issues I faced goes hand in hand with my underlying mental health issues, and perhaps I may not have found the effects of teacher trauma so devastating if not for them, but this sort of hindsight does not help me, nor does it overshadow the general issues of teacher trauma. I will not be the only person in the education sector whom has suffered with mental health issues, nor will I be the only person who will struggle in what is a notoriously stressful and hard-wearing employment sector. I believe I would not be hard-wrought to find an individual who feels that the education sector is one of the hardest to work in, regardless of the absence of any mental health issues. It shouldn’t be surprising then, whether a person is inclined to higher levels of anxiety or self-esteem issues or not, that teacher trauma is a real and tangible occupational hazard in the education sector.

On a positive note, I have opened myself up slightly to the prospect of going back into education, I applied for a local job as a primary school librarian while job hunting, I didn't get it but the act of applying to possibly go back into education was a huge step. I don't know if I could ever go back into being a TA, and definitely not as a teacher, but the idea of working solely as support staff is rather attractive to me still. There’s no point hiding it, I am still terrified. I am still feeling the after effects of the trauma and degradation I faced in my last position and I don’t truly know what will help me go back to the person I was before it.

To get over my “fear” of the education sector? Probably going back into it, but that feels far too much right now, at least as anything but a librarian. I had been applying for numerous retail and barista type jobs because I felt in need of a reset and something as far away from the responsibilities of education as far as possible. Running away from the issue is probably not the best way to heal, but it might also give me back some sense of my value as a worker and a person, which I have ultimately lost.

I don’t know whether employers realise the importance of preserving an employee’s sense of self; belittling social media statuses and grandiose attitudes go a long way to making a person feel small, insignificant and useless. Treating staff well and giving them support is especially important in education where the issues faced are so uniquely challenging.

I know now that my experiences were not my fault, I was caught in a perfect storm of poor management, staff retention, and was lied to profusely. Some of the behaviour I faced from students? Not down to my supposed personal insufficiencies but fairly standard for new and training teachers, just made more intense by the slowly diminishing state of my person due to the attitudes and behaviours of other staff.

So what can we take from my ramblings? For starters; lets please recognise that teacher trauma is real, has real effects, and has wider ranging impacts after the initial upsets that can truly destroy a persons’ self-worth, like most work-place traumas. Teacher trauma just has the added complexity of the school environment, but is otherwise the exact same as other work traumas.

Secondly; a lot has to be said for the weight that is placed on teachers and educational support staff every day. The school environment can be brutal if not in an area that is blessed with prosperity and kids who have brilliant support systems; it will have so-called “tougher” kids with a higher work load, but less of a reward. It is not unusual then that teacher trauma and, on a less debilitating vein, teacher dissatisfaction, is so prolific given how the sector can be so difficult to work in.

And finally; more needs to be looked at in regards to mental health in general and how the actions of others can be detrimental to others’ mental state. Mental health is something that is slowly coming to the forefront of the media and is, supposedly, becoming less of a taboo and talked about more openly, but if I felt this was wholly true I would probably not have written this piece. There are still areas in which mental health discussion is lacking and in some, not even considered. Exactly how we have had an organised education system for so long, but have neglected to talk more about the mental health issues relating to it is truly appalling. It is no secret that it comes down to a general lack of real knowledge or discussion of the deeper implications of mental health in society and the workplace, something that is so erroneous to still say in 2017; a supposedly progressive, modern, and sympathetic era.

We need to stop being shy about mental health, and we especially need to stop being shy about the existence of workplace trauma and its long-ranging effects. I am not the only person who has faced teacher trauma, nor will I be the last, nor will I be the last person to be made to feel worthless by employers who are tactless with their approach to staff.

If you are a teacher, or a TA, or another member of the education sector struggling under your unique set of pressures: you aren’t wrong, you aren’t weak, you aren’t useless. Trust me on that.


- Georgia xo

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

FEELING CRAP: Grief + Uncertainty

Hello all, it's been a while and for that I'm sorry.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since I last posted back in February, some of it good, some of it bad. The last few months have shaped me pretty drastically as a person, likely forever. I know that sounds entirely dramatic, but I felt that I've been put in a ringer, picked up, chucked in a pen with some hungry bears, picked up again, and been dumped in a swimming pool full of very angry bees.

To say I feel chewed up, spat out, tired, and fed up, is an understatement of the century. My life for the first half of 2017 has been a rollercoaster, one that I will never ever go on again and would give 0/5 stars to on Trip Adviser: "Never again, made me puke and have an existential crisis while crying on the floor in my underwear snuggling a crate of ice cream. AVOID!!!11!".

Self-deprecating witticisms aside, 2017 has been a bitch of a year for me and I've never wanted a year to end so badly. for now, he's a recap and explanation for my absence.

Back in February I was offered a job in a local school as a teaching assistant, something I had been waiting for since November. I happily snapped up the place, happy to be able to be in a good job, doing a good thing. It look me a little while to adjust, but once I felt comfortable, I loved it. I loved my fellow TA's, the teachers, even the kids. I was extremely busy making resources, taking revision classes an so on that I found little time not energy to update this blog around my responsibilities. 

Sadly as I was JUST for the English department and JUST to help the kids come exam season I was let go...with three days notice. I knew it was always a possibility with agency work, but actually being told on a Tuesday that my last day was the coming Friday with no way to say goodbye to the kids I'd been working with was extremely hard. Anyone who has worked in education will likely now this feeling, they became my little ducklings that I held under my wing and helped as best I could. I actually sobbed when I saw some of my students in the local paper receiving their GCSE results. Perhaps I'm just a soft sap, but they were my kids and I am still ridiculously proud of them and still very sad I didn't get to tell them how much so.

In desperation, I took a cover job for the remainder of the school year at another school in Essex. It took me forever to commute, the kids had more behavioural issues (with inadequate support), and I was pushed beyond my limits, skills, and expectations. I was threatened, belittled, and treated with no respect from both students and higher levels of staff, plus derogatory comments were made online about me and fellow supplies. Yes, really. 

Going from working in a place that, on a whole, appreciated me and did all they could to support me, to a place that didn't seem to care about my physical or emotional well-being was hard. The students were being let down by school that focused more on its outward appearance as opposed to actually fixing it's deep-rooted issues, which made some children lash out on me. I was made to feel that I was single-handedly the person letting these children down, which is a deeply traumatising notion to deal with.

It was only recently when my friend shared her own, and fellow trainee teacher experiences that I realised my situation was exactly the same. I was having the same experiences as a trainee teacher, it wasn't my fault, it was relatively 'normal' for someone new to teaching, but I was made to feel, on a public platform no less, that I was an utter failure. I experienced what that same friend has called 'Teacher Trauma' which is a very real, very scary thing; it is something I will probably dedicate a whole post to in the future due to the fairly invisible nature of it in schooling.

Leaving said last school at the end of the academic year was a relief, a huge breath of fresh air, and a much needed respite given the hard few months I'd had.

Preceding my job woes, my Nan passed away suddenly in May. It was an extremely hard time, we were extremely close, with her being more of a second Mum than a Grandparent. She was my best friend, my confidant, and I spent an exceedingly crazy amount of time with her. Her loss is something I'm still struggling to fully understand as a lot of my identity was enmeshed with her. I was her carer, her confidant, her librarian and wheelchair driver, not to mention toffee smuggler.

It's still, a few months on, something I struggle with daily. Losing someone you are close to is hard, losing them so suddenly is even harder, and losing someone who was such an integral part of yourself is dehumanising. I haven't fully returned to my old self since before her death, I dress permanently in jeans and baggy jumpers, I struggle to put on half way decent make-up, and I resign myself to a messy ponytail pretty much everyday, because I honestly can't manage anything else consistently anymore.

My experience with grief is something I will explore more in specific posts; grief and its aftermath are not something that can truly be 'tagged' on to an update post like this, not in its full potency anyway. For now I will say that grief and loss are not talked about enough, the experiences we all have in the face of loss are so uniquely devastating and intrinsic to each of us that I don't know what I can do or say that may help, but I feel the need to talk about grief in the hope that maybe one person can be comforted as they traipse a very hard path.

2017 has been a year of soul-searching, particularity in the last two months were I have considered my future options. Teaching is definitely not for me, the experiences I had were too traumatic for me to wish to return to secondary or primary teaching. I have taken up an MA in English to pursue my pipe-dream of becoming a University lecturer in the future, but I'm currently stuck in where to take my employment for now while I study for my MA, and later PhD. Do I return to my earlier dreams of journalism? Focus on monetising my art work and design? Do I become a full-time carer for my Granddad who is slowly in the need of more help as he reaches 90? Or do I take a more normal job, maybe in a bookshop or a cafe, and balance all of the above while adhering to the stereotype of Literature graduates working as a Barista?

I still have a fair amount of soul-searching to do and large decisions to make with very little space in which to work it all out. Professionally and personally, I've taken a battering in 2017 and, while it has destroyed me in some aspects, it has also forced me to work out my priorities and where my passions lie. for that, I am grateful, though when I'm writing my dissertation I'm sure I'll curse the day  I decided to complete my education so soon.

All I know currently is that I want to try and finish 2017 strong and to go into 2018 knowing I did my best to turn around what has been a truly shit year for the most part.

I don't know exactly what's in the cards for me yet, but watch this space, we might find it out together.

- Georgia xo


Monday, 6 February 2017

ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASES OF 2017


With the arrival of a new year comes an influx of gym memberships, a mass increase in the sale of spiralisers, and the joy of new book releases, and 2017 is no exception. 2017 is a year with a plethora of fantastic book releases, so many so that I found myself hard wrought to narrow down my most awaited releases. Somehow, I managed it, and below I have curated my top three anticipated releases in five categories, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short-stories, and young-adult. Check them out below!




Made for Love - Alissa Nutting
An intriguing tale from the writer of Tampa; Made for Love follows the life of Hazel as she moves in with her father, and his very realistic sex doll Diane, after running away from her husband Bryan Gogol, CEO of Gogol industries. After Bryan attempts to “mind-meld” himself and Hazel via computer chips he has developed Hazel realises the clinical and isolated life she has been subjected to is now too much. As Hazel attempts to create a new life for herself in a world she isn’t used to, she must also face the threat of Bryon’s relentless pursuit to bring her ‘home’.
RELEASED 4TH JULY

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
A highly anticipated debut from Gail Honeyman about a woman named Eleanor as her carefully constructed life is interrupted by Raymond, her colleague. The two bond, despite Eleanor’s struggles with social interaction and tendency to say whatever she is thinking, as well as her carefully scheduled life. The two meet Sammy, an elderly man they assist after he falls in the street; what follows is a story of the trios’ friendship as they help ease each other’s loneliness, and help Eleanor learn the importance of love.
RELEASED 18TH MAY

Everything Belongs to Us - Yoojin Grace Wuertz
Everything Belongs to Us documents the story of two women in South Korea of vastly different backgrounds as they struggle to make their own way during South Korea’s “economic miracle” in Seoul, 1978. Childhood friends Jisun and Namin wish to change their lives, Jisun by rejecting her privileged background and focusing on her schoolwork, and her underground activism, and Namin by working tirelessly in the hopes to bring her family out of poverty. However, the meeting of Sunam, a student, and member of the prestigious club ‘the Circle’, and his mentor Juno intertwines the fours’ lives in ways that impact their lives forever.
RELEASED 28TH FEBRUARY



The Otter’s Tale – Simon Cooper
Simon Cooper regales us with the tale of a family of otters he came to share his recently bought mill with in the South of England. Cooper developed an extraordinary bond with the otter family, being able to intimately document their usually secretive lives into this book, focusing on the story of the female otter Kuschta. Interspersed with Kuschta’s tale is the history of the otter, including its near extinction to the extent of the conservation efforts entailed to rescue one of the world’s favourite, but most elusive, mammals.
RELEASED 23RD MARCH

Emergency Admissions - Kit Wharton
Emergency Admissions is a frank, shocking, and at times funny collection of stories form the experiences of Kit Wharton, an ambulance drive for over a decade. In a time in which our NHS I under immense stress and critique, Wharton opens the reader eyes to the reality of the ambulance service, detailing the highs and lows, including; nuisance calls, sex parties gone awry, heart-breaking, and equally heart-warming stories of the patients he has attended to. Mixed in with the tales of discharges and broken bones is Wharton’s own unusual childhood that he accounts prepared him for the often bizarre nature on the front-line of British healthcare.
RELEASED 9TH FEBRUARY

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls - Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
An immensely successfully Kickstarter project, raising more than ten times the originally $40,000 goal, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a collection of 100 stories of the live of 100 extraordinary real life women, illustrated by 100 different female artists. A spin on the usual bedtime story fodder of princesses in towers waiting to be saved, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls focuses on past and present inspiring women, from the Bronte sisters, Frida Kahlo, to Serena Williams. This is a book that celebrates women and their achievements, and highlights them in a format that is accessible, beautiful, and enjoyable.
RELEASED 2ND MARCH



The Unaccompanied – Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage is a well-known figure in the world of British poetry, with his most recent works Seeing Stars, The Last Days of Troy, and Pearl receiving rave reviews. His lastest collection, The Unaccompanied returns to his contemporary lyricism, bringing warmth, brutal honesty to his already divers and engaging set of works.
RELEASED 2ND MARCH

British Museum - Daljit Nagra
British Museum is Nagra’s third collection of poetry, it consists of his retelling of the epic Indian poem Ramayana. His usual wit and joviality are present in a series of poems that meditate on the idea of heritage, in this case British, and the institutions that define this, such as the BBC or the British Museum, the namesake of the collection. British Museum pushes the reader to recognise and question personal morality and responsibility in light of a their sense of a national identity that is, at this time, greatly challenged.
RELEASED 18TH MAY

the princess saves herself in this one - Amanda Lovelace
Lovelace gives us an intriguing poetry collection that is set into four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and “you”. This collection brings together the life of Lovelace, but also engages directly with the reader, exploring the ideas of loss, love, grief, inspiration, and empowerment.
RELEASED 15TH FEBRUARY



Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami
World-renowned author Haruki Murakami returns with seven tales of men who have found themselves without women, and are left inexplicably alone in their absence. Included are stories of disappearing cats, baseball, lonely hearts, and the Beatles, along with Murkami’s signature wry wit and humour.
RELEASED 9TH MAY

I’d Die for You – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’d Die for You encompasses the last of Fitzgerald’s unpublished works, the author renowned for the timeless classis that is The Great Gatsby. Included are stories originally published in magazines in the 1930s, movie scenario’s originally destined for movie studios, and some stories that, due to their subject matter, were never published, and perhaps may never have been if not for this new collection. Readers will experience the real, uncensored life of young men and women in the 1930’s, often inspired by Fitzgerald’s own tumultuous life, in a collection that spans his entire writing career.
RELEASED 4TH MAY

all the beloved ghosts – Alison Macleod
Alison Macleod, a Man Booker Prize-longlisted author of blends fiction, biography and memoir into an evocative collection of short stories that take us into history, literature, and the lives of iconic figures. Stories include; a woman in 1920s Nova Scotia emerging from mourning and wears a new fur coat that will change her entire life; a teenager looking for a lost love in the summer of 2011, in a riotous London; an author visits the gravesite of Sylvia Plath's, making an unusual and unexpected connection in the past. In a set of stories that capture the idioms of memory, media and mortality, Macleod has crafted a collection that captures the truth and experience of human existence.
RELEASED 9TH MARCH


One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus
One of Us is Lying is a Young-Adult thriller telling the story of how five strangers attend detention, but only four leave it alive. In a story that plays on and explores the idea of school-age cliques and personas, McManus delves into the human psyche to show that, whether jock, nerd, ‘beauty’ or outcast, everyone has something to hide, and that more meets the eye that trivial labels.
RELEASED 30TH MAY

Wicked like a Wildfire - Lana Popović
The women in Iris and Malina's family are born with a ‘gleam’, aa unique ability to manipulate different forms of beauty through magic. Iris sees flowers as fractals turning her visions into beautiful glassworks, her sister Malina interprets moods as music, while their mother, Jasmina, bakes intricate and beautiful sceneries into baked goods. Jasmina warns the girls against using their powers publically, and falling in love, as both risk the safe and quiet lives they have created. However, their peaceful lives are upturned as Jasmina is attacked and left between life and death, as the girls discover that there is more to their powers than they realised, and that powerful curse haunts their bloodline. This is the start of a duology about magic, love, and the qualities of beauty.
RELEASED 5TH OCTOBER

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls - Lauren Karcz
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls follows Mercedes Moreno, a struggling artist who has failed to pain since her award-winning art piece a year ago. The reason for her lack of inspiration could be her ailing abuela, who is comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or perhaps it is due to Mercedes feelings for her best friend Victoria, whom she is in love with, but refuses to reveal said fact. While she struggles with her artistic integrity; art comes to her in the form of a neighbour who invites her to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate. The Estate enlivens Mercedes creativity, allowing her to reveal her deepest secrets somewhere he feels safe, but the benefits she feels while at the Estate dwindle as she leaves. As her life outside of the Estate crumbles Mercedes finds herself torn between two live: a perfect world of art, or a messier reality.
RELEASED 25TH JULY

So that's my list of anticipated releases for 12017. What books are you most excited for in the oncoming months? I’d love to hear from you! Please don't hesitate to comment or get in touch with one of my social networks below!

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- Georgia xo


Thursday, 2 February 2017

HOW MUCH THE HEART CAN HOLD: SEVEN STORIES ON LOVE - REVIEW

What first gripped me with How Much the Heart Can Hold was the stunning cover; the textured matte cream hardcover compliments the anatomical drawing of the heart remarkably well, so much so that I display it rather gloriously on my shelf, cover pointing outwards so everyone can appreciate how beautiful it is. Yes, I’m that sad, but it’s so pretty; thankfully the inside of this collection is just as well-crafted as its cover.

How Much the Heart Can Hold explores the multitudinous concept of love and its many forms, including Eros, (sexual love) and Agape, (unconditional love)*, as well as five other stories exploring the complexity of one of our strongest emotions. The authors involved in this collection are: Carys Bray, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Bernardine Evaristo, Grace McCleen, Donal Ryan, Nikesh Shukla and D. W. Wilson, award-winning writers who have each written unique and enthralling depictions of love. Each story is exceptional, and play within each individual writers’ style and common themes within their larger works making the collection diverse and engaging, with every writer bringing a fresh perspective to the idea of ‘love’.

'No one has measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.' - Zelda Fitzgerald

Nikesh Shukla’s short story, White Wine, explores Philautia, (or self-love, learning more towards respect for oneself and achievements as opposed to narcissism), and follows the story of a brother concerned over the racist attitudes and behaviour towards his sister from her boss, and her prevailing desire to bond with said jerk. The narrative of this story echoes only too realistically the still burgeoning racism and discrimination in Modern Britain towards ethnic minorities, in this case, South-Asian, with Rupa’s boss nick-naming her team as “his favourite terror cell”, with Rupa as “their fearless leader, Bin Laden”. Yes, really. White Wine explores the question of whether racism has actually decreased, with Rupa questioning her brother on whether people can still be racist as “it feels so old-fashioned”, while also exploring the idea of Philautia and loving oneself in light of such attitudes. White Wine is, inarguably, my favourite in this collection and has spurred me on to read more of Shukla’s work. His ability to combine the idea of Philautia with modern social issues that are increasingly

While all the stories in this collection are excellent, some stand out to me more than others, such as Buchanan’s Before It Disappears; a story based on La Douleur Exquisite, (unrequited love) in which a husband struggles with his wife’s eating disorder, as spurred on by his liaison with another woman, with an appearance by a unicorn. This story is sumptuous in its description and Buchanan is a marvellously detailed writer, evoking brilliant and vivid images in the mind’s eye with his unique expression. Also a favourite story of mine is Codas by Carys Bray, a story exploring Storge, (familial love) with a sweet tale of daughter’s concern for her football obsessed father when he is hospitalised, and her motherly love for her son, a keen footballer and ballet dancer.

How Much the Heart Can Hold contests the idea of love as being purely ‘romantic’ and delves deeper into what love is, and can do to the human psyche. Emma Herdman, the editor of this collection, has managed to bring together a group of exceptionally talented writers who succeed in challenging the binary conceptions of what love is with immense style, crafting seven stories that are equally captivating, moving, and intriguing. As a fairly new reader to short stories, I was immensely pleased with my reading experience of How Much the Heart Can Hold, and it has opened my eyes to the boundless potential of a medium I initially thought would be quite limited in subject and impact. I strongly recommend this collection to anyone dipping their toe into the short story genre, and already avid fans of the genre. This collection is fascinating, pushing me to question the potentials of ‘love’, as well as introducing me to multiple writers whose further works I wish to explore in the future.

Disclaimer: How Much the Heart Can Hold was sent to me from Spectre to review for free, via Bookbridgr. This has not affected my review and my opinion towards the books I receive gratis are honest and impartial.

Rating: ★★

Have you read How Much the Heart Can Hold? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please don't hesitate to comment or get in touch with one of my social networks below!

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- Georgia xo

* To any fellow Anime fans: These stories are not like Yuri on Ice. Sorry for bursting your katsudon bubbles.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

GETTING BACK INTO BLOGGING + NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS


I guess I better start off by saying: HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and rung in the New Year with fun, festivity, and loads of glitter, fireworks, and turkey!

I should probably follow up with a huge SORRY for being AWOL and leaving the blog alone for such a long time, I’m never in the best mindset around this time, with the mayhem of Christmas stirring up a lot of anxiety. I’ve also been reluctant to engage with the blog for number of personal reasons, ones that have made me feel uncomfortable posting on any of my social networks. I put the blog on an unannounced hiatus until I could get myself back into the positive mindset I had previously regarding this blog, as well as the prevailing anxieties surrounding it. It’s taken a while and a lot of soul-searching, but I’m finally back!

I am extraordinarily happy to see the end of what has been one of the most difficult, but also most rewarding and validating years of my life, and welcome 2017 and everything that it will bring. I’m going into 2017 with a mostly positive attitude, and have decided 2017 is the year for self-improvement and wish-fulfillment; 2016 made it undeniably clear that life is achingly short and I need to try to make the most of it.

So, to start off HOLY CRAP! for the new year, here is my list of resolutions for 2017:

GET MY HEALTH IN ORDER
It comes as no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog that my health isn’t always in the best shape, having problems with anxiety, depression, insomnia and asthma. I can usually cope with these things decently day to day, but my final year at university, then post-grad life have taken their toll and I’m finding it harder to manage my mind and body.

I spent a lot of 2016 holed up in my room as an exhausted, emotional wreck, meaning I didn’t enjoy my final months at uni like I should have, missing out on some really fun times with some really cool people. I’ve been neglecting my health for so long without realizing that, by choosing to ignore how I have felt, I was making things worse, creating an extremely toxic cycle I’ve been too scared and ignorant to break.

I’ve finally decided to break this vicious circle and get my life and health on a good track for 2017, I think I owe it to myself to be able to reach my true potential, which I know I can only do if I take a step back to look after and nurture myself. I urge anyone reading this to take care of yourself, self-care is one of the most important actions you can take when you suffer from any form of health issue, whether mental or physical. Take the time to cherish yourself, with or without professional help, and become the strongest you you can be.

ENGAGE WITH MY CREATIVITY
Since leaving sixth form back in 2012 I’ve struggled with tapping into the artistic side of myself; I couldn’t find an adequate avenue to express my creativity at university until my final year when I enrolled in two creative writing courses. It was the best year of my academic life creativity wise, and my passion for poetry and short story writing hasn’t diminished, though I’m still horrendous at writing science fiction, (sorry Matthew!). Since I've graduated my writing has petered off as I’ve struggled with inspiration, finding I can only form ideas at indecent times of the night when my brain and arms cannot coordinate, so I’m left with indecipherable scribbles in the tatty notebook I keep under my pillow.

As someone who has always been intensely creative it has been exceedingly hard not exploring this  part of my identity. I want to be able to reclaim the titles of writer and artist, so this year I’m making a conscious effort to engage with my creativity again and build up my portfolio again. I’m setting up an art/writing studio area to my room and making an active promise to myself to carry on with the projects I’ve pushed aside for far too long. I want to be able to exit 2017 saying proudly that yes, I am a writer and artist and this is my work.

(Essentially this means dragging my boyfriend and family around art/stationary shops and making them wait as I try to take obnoxious photos of leaves. Sorry guys~)

SET UP MY SHOP
For a long time now I’ve wanted to run my own business, and being a creative I've wanted this shop to focus largely on my homemade items and artwork. I’ve wanted to gather my interests and hobbies into a store for a long time, and had planned to do so in 2016 before life, inevitably, got in the way. I’m hoping to set up my shop within the next few months showcasing my jewelry, artwork and home accessories that I have made and/or curated.

If anyone has any experience running their own business, particularly in the creative sector or on Etsy, I'd love to hear from you!

CUT OUT THE NEGATIVITY
Part of my aim for self-improvement in 2017 is accepting that there are negative people in my life that I need to cut off to truly feel better with myself, and my life as a whole. I need to accept that, no matter who they are, if they are detrimental to my happiness, I am within my right to cut them away. This isn’t something I’ve taken lightly, having made some tough decisions last year regarding people I struggled to recognise as being toxic and manipulative for a long time.  On the whole I feel better having made this decision, but I know I still have negative influences in my life that I need to 'sort out' and minimize as best I can.

Just because someone is family, a long-term friend, or a partner, if they make you feel awful and have a negative effect on you, you are under no obligation to keep them in your life; always put yourself and your well-being first. The same applies to fellow employees, even random strangers, no one should be allowed to have an impact in your life if said impact is wholly negative, demeaning, or unhelpful. This year I’m making I've decided to make a conscious effort to remove or ignore the negative people or influences within my life, I want people who can encourage and support me, people who can help me grow as opposed to people who will hold me back. I want healthy relationships and a healthy environment, and I implore you to attempt the same. Positivity is a powerful thing, hold onto it and foster it as much as you can, and keep those who fill you with it close to you, always.


And that is my list of resolutions for 2017; a mission to improve my health, well-being and become the creative I strive to be. So, do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Do you have any input or advice you might have for me going into the year? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please don't hesitate to comment or get in touch with one of my social networks below!

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- Georgia xo

Monday, 21 November 2016

HOLY HUNGER - FOODIE BUCKET LIST



You cannot be a foodie without having some form of bucket list, it comes part and parcel with the want to eat tasty things all day, everyday. This particular bucket list is split into three sections TRY; food I want to make. TASTE; food I want to eat. TOUR; places I want to eat at. I'll likely add more and more to this as the blog goes on because there's waaaay too many things I want to try and places I want to visit that I think this list will become endless. Oh well~

TRY 
  • Madelines 
  • Biscotti 
  • Gingerbread House 
  • Mushroom Stock 
  • Doughnuts 
  • Tiramisu 
  • Croquembouche 
  • Puff Pastry
  • Marshmellows 
  • Croque Madame 
  • Truffles 
  • Churros 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Butter
  • Pesto
  • Spring Rolls
  • Ice Cream
  • Souffle
  • Mousse
  • Creme Brulee
  • Baklava
  • Eclairs
  • Macaroons
  • Naan Bread
  • Foccacia
  • Bagels
  • Gnocchi
  • Houmous
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Baked Alaska
  • Black Forest cake
  • Mousse
  • Jam
  • Cheese


TASTE 
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte 
  • Sushi 
  • Beef Wellington 
  • Tuna Steak 
  • Kimchi 
  • Korean BBQ 
  • Tapas
  • Asparagus
  • Paella
  • Truffle
  • Dim Sum
  • Lobster
  • Asparagus
  • Fennel
  • Bibimbap
  • Absinthe
  • Aubergine
  • Cheese Fondue
  • Durian Fruit
  • Goats Cheese
  • Manchego
  • Fontina


TOUR
  • Dishoom 
  • Duck & Waffle 
  • Rita's 
  • Bone Daddies 
  • Poppies 
  • Herman Ze German 
  • The Breakfast Club 
  • Dip & Flip 
  • Bao 
  • The Melt Room 
  • Crosstown Doughnuts 
  • Bodean's BBQ
  • Blu Top
  • On the Bab
  • Sticky Beaks
  • Porky's BBQ
  • Voodoo Ray's
  • Lucky Chip
  • Bababoom
  • Bird ★★★★
  • Mother Clucker
  • Jubo
  • Tay Do Cafe

Thursday, 10 November 2016

READY PLAYER ONE BY ERNEST CLINE - REVIEW

I picked up Ready Player One  due to the ridiculous amount of hype it got back when it was published. I know, I'm 4 years late, but it says something about this book that I was still thinking about it so long after its release. The premise of this book got me particularly excited; in 2044 the world has become desolate and dangerous due to global warming, energy shortages and the resulting economic ruin. The only escape is the immensely popular virtual reality game known as OASIS, in which players can forget the brutal realities of the modern world and immerse themselves in an extraordinary and limitless RPG. Ready Player One revolves around the narrator and main character Wade Watts as he attempts to leave less than idyllic home of his aunt and attempt to better the world via his attempts to solve the OASIS 'Easter egg'. Left behind my creator James Halliday upon his death, the 'Egg' gives whoever finds it not only full control over OASIS, but Halliday's huge fortune. But there's a catch, to find the Easter egg the players must solve a complex set of clues to find it's location; five years after its reveal the initial clue is still unsolved, and the egg is nowhere to be found.

"These three words were always the last thing an OASIS user saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: READY PLAYER ONE”

Now, the actual story-line of this is wonderful, with good guys fighting extremely corrupt bad guys (the IOI) trying to monetise OASIS and turn it into a 'pay-to-play' for the elite; wonderfully rich descriptions of the OASIS landscape and the RPG system; hilarious and well-rounded characters including Og, the co-founder of OASIS who in one brilliant scene DJ's a party in an anti-gravity club, yes, really. This is a wonderfully complex, intricate and sumptuously detailed text that is perfect for any fan of RPG games like myself, though you will finish this book feeling deflated because why can't OASIS be real?

Now there is one huge problem with this book for me, and sadly it is a huge part of the entire premise of the book; the 80's references. Halliday was a quintessential 80's child with an obsession with the early video games, technology and TV/films of his childhood. This in itself isn't a problem, I'm in that odd middle area of being both a 90's and a millennial child, so Halliday's romantic nostalgia and obsession with his childhood culture is not really a problem for me, my generation have essentially created a meme from said weird obsession (only 90's kid will get this...), so I can't really judge. My problems arise from the fact that the hunters for the egg are told that the answers for Halliday's clues lie somewhere in his 80's obsession. In itself, not awful, until large swathes of the novel become dedicated to obscure 80's knowledge that left me insanely bored.

“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.”

Due to the fervent hunt for the egg the characters in Ready Player One immerse themselves in 80's culture big time, (acid wash and blue eye-shadow, sadly, make a comeback), meaning the references are near on constant. I am not one for 80's culture at all, I don't know why, but it has never interested me, so sections of the novel in which Wade or Art3mis show off their impressive knowledge of said era bored me quite a lot. I sadly ended up having to put this book down for a while as I found it too intense, too long-winded and far too much for my poor millennial brain. The 80's was a remarkably cool era, especially in regards to gaming, but sadly, I found myself wishing for less of these sections and more about OASIS and the actual hunt for the egg.

All that being said, this is a fairly good book and an exciting read, the latter quarter or so of this book is fast-paced, intense, and is worth drudging through or skipping the 80's references if you can; I can only give this three stars however as the constant and obscure 80's knowledge made this such a hard read at times for me personally, not that I wouldn't recommend it, but please go into it knowing you will be faced with Wade explaining the patterns of Joust or Pacman, or reciting parts of the script of Wargames. I am super excited to see the movie adaption of this book coming in 2018, and can't wait to see how they bring OASIS to life and it's myriad of characters to life, I just hope that the 80's references aren't as intense, my millennial brain just can't take it.

Rating: ★★