Author Haul: Ian McEwan

Due to the nature of my degree, I am always reading, however I have a lot less time to read for pleasure. But, whenever I do find the time I often turn to one of my favourite authors: Ian McEwen!

So, why McEwen? Well firstly, without giving away any spoilers, I always love the big twist he includes within his plots. Despite being an avid reader of McEwan’s they always take me by surprise! I love the fact that regardless of which one of his texts I may be dipping into, each one brings something completely different- hence why I am kept guessing. I also really enjoy how easily immersed and invested I am with McEwan’s characters- I find them extremely relatable so I can’t help but to turn the page to find out what happens next. This is due to the plot placing the reader in a diverse and thought provoking setting.

Also, McEwan constantly tackles interesting and engaging subject matters within his fiction. As I mentioned, I do read him for pleasure, but he is also of academic interest. My Literature and Environment module had McEwan’s Solar listed on it’s recommended reading list, due to his engagement with eco-critical issues. During my A-levels I also read On Chesil Beach (which I really enjoyed). McEwan is critically acclaimed also, for example Amsterdam was the winner of The Booker Prize (1998) and Atonement was also shortlisted for the prize in 2001 (this was also adapted into a feature film directed by Jo Wright in 2007).

Atonement was the first book I ever read of McEwan’s and I had come across it completely by chance! I was on holiday and had read all of my ‘holiday books’, but the villa we were staying in had a bookshelf. I decided to have a nose around, when I came across Atonement. Recognising the title from the film, I thought I would give the book a try- and I am so pleased that I did!

So far, my favourite work of his is Saturday (not pictured as it is on my kindle). Saturday follows the story of Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon going about his daily life struggling to place himself in the post-modernist setting of the novel, engaging the reader in a setting of contemplation of modern life. But then, the problems Perowne considers come much closer to home…

I wont spoil it by revealing anymore, but hopefully that short synopsis gives some insight to why I enjoy McEwan so much!

I have a lot more McEwan to read, but I am enjoying making my way through his work! I am now currently reading Enduring Love. I’m only a chapter in so far, but I am loving it already!

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Thank you for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this post please like/comment/share away! Have you read anything by McEwan? If not, do you think you will now? Who is your go to author? I would love to hear from you!

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Visit to The British Library

During the sumBL photomer in 2015, I visited the British Library (BL) in London to conduct some archival research for my undergraduate dissertation. It was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend a visit.

However, due to the library housing over 170 million items and many extremely rare objects, there are some things you need to consider- but not to worry it is all explained on the British Library webpage. You need to register for a Readers Pass, a process you can start online before you actually go. If you pre-register you can then also use the online system to source and reserve the items you want to view when visiting the reading rooms.

When you attend the BL you will firstly have to complete your registration at the Registration Office. You will have to bring some documents and also have a chat with one of the registration workers to explain your research (again all the details can be found online).

But once this is completed you are free to explore the items of the British Library! I had to put my bag and coat in a locker, and was provided with a clear plastic bag where I could put my notebook and pencil (pens aren’t permitted) to take to my assigned reading room. I had to show my newly acquired Readers Pass to the security guard at the door before I was allowed in. Personally, this made me realise how precious the items are that BL, and made the experience even more valuable. I then went to the main desk, where my requested items were waiting.

When I visited I looked at the private letters and diary entries of Virginia Woolf. I found it fascinating to be viewing Woolf’s archival documents, and being given the opportunity to use such interesting research in my dissertation. I also experienced viewing a microfilm for the first time! The microfilm was given to me in a box… And I had literally had no idea what I was supposed to do with it.

I was surrounded by very important looking people, looking at very precious documents (some were wearing gloves- you may laugh but at the time it was intimidating), and I looked like the only undergraduate in the room. So, when I was presented with this film I did not want to admit I had no clue what to do. I saw a sign above a huge machine with microfilm on so I guessed it was a sure bet…. but you had to input the film into this scary machine yourself! After some fiddling and trying to look like I knew what I was doing, I gave in and finally asked for help. But I needn’t have worried, a member of the library staff was so friendly and helpful, and got me set up with machine straight away.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in literature with to visit the BL, but also to anyone in the general public. The British Library often have exhibitions on, currently there is an Alice in Wonderland Exhibition on until the 17th April 2016 which is open to public viewing.

To close, it was just a great day out. I took a train to London, and immersed myself researching a topic I loved.