The Lincoln Cathedral Library

LibraryFirstly, apologies for not posting recently, I’m coming up to the last three weeks of my BA so university work has taken priority (over what feels like ALL aspects of my life).

Recently, my parents came up to visit me, which was a welcome break from my studies! I took them to visit the Lincoln Cathedral. Situated at the top of Steep Hill, we opted to go on a tour that takes you to the top of the Tower, to take advantage of the picturesque views. They were truly breath-taking! Whilst I was there, I couldn’t resist the chance to take a look around the Library!

The Library consists of many documents, ranging from 15th Century Manuscripts to 17th Century early printed books. Although many items have restricted access, when I visited there was a very helpful guide there who was more than happy to answer any of my questions. Also, if you arrange it prior to your trip, you can have a guided tour of the Library.

It was fascinating to be able to look such historic texts, and it was great to see how well preserved and cared for they were. I also enjoy learning about the rich history of Lincoln- I go to university here so it would be a shame not to learn about the areas past.

On the 4th May 2016 I will be returning to the Wren Library of the Cathedral. The University has invited me to attend a symposium of the MA Students from the English School, as I have secured a place to continue study on an MA in 21st Century Literature in September 2016. I can’t wait to return- I love the fact that the university is engaging with one of the many historic locations in Lincoln. The fact it is the Cathedral Library makes it even better!

 

Thanks for reading! Is there anything similar near you? Have you visited anywhere of historical importance recently? Are you from an area with a rich history? Or, have you found a new bookworm spot? Let me know below in the comments and please like and share!

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My Top Three Texts

As I am super busy with my final hand-ins and assessments for my degree, I thought I would do a round up of my top three favourite books. If you have been following my blog, you will notice I have already posted an Author Haul on Ian McEwan. So, to save repeating myself and boring you all, here my other favourites:

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1)The Waves (1931) by Virginia Woolf

I love love love Virginia Woolf, she was the focus of my undergraduate dissertation and I find her work within literary modernism truly inspiring. In particular, I really enjoy her focus on the interiority of character. She was one of the first authors to think of the text reflecting thoughts and feelings, bringing the reader closer to the life of her constructs.

My favourite fictional work of hers (I would highly recommend also reading her literary criticism) is The Waves. Written in 1931, The Waves is regarded as one of Woolf’s most experimental novels; which follows the lives of Bernard, Neville, Louis, Jinny and Rhoda. The narrative follows the characters relationships with one another and the natural world, and mainly consists of what many critics refer to as ‘soliloquies’, due to the rhythmical nature of the prose. Interspersed between these soliloquies are sections of descriptions of the natural world, focussing on water and light, which pose a close relationship to the characters subject matter within their soliloquies.

I found the intricate technique employed by Woolf fascinating, which means I couldn’t help but continue to turn the pages. On a more basic level, the close relationship Woolf inspires between characters and reader means you become really invested in the text!

 

2) Tristram Shandy (1759) by Laurence Sterne

I had never read any Sterne prior to university, however Tristram Shandy was on my reading list for the Georgian module. Many of my peers didn’t enjoy this text which I can understand due to its investment in John Locke’s philosophies. The text is also loaded with reference to Sterne’s wider reading, which I for one can say was lost on me at times. It is also a lengthy text- but persevere as I assure you there are brilliant moments!

Throughout Tristram Shandy, particularly in earlier editions, there are features such as the marbled and black page. There are also embellishments of Sterne’s illustrations, such as the squiggly lines (don’t laugh- it literally is a squiggle). These illustrated qualities of the text are said to be reflective of character feeling, for example (spoiler alert) the black page is arguably representative of Tristram’s feelings about Yorik’s death.

Perhaps I enjoy this closeness to character consciousness, through writing this post I have realised this is the theme that has drawn me to both books!

 

3) How to Be a Woman (2011) by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s non-fictional text is something I would encourage anyone to read. It poses the awkward questions that come along when becoming a woman in a hilarious fashion. Moran isn’t afraid to speak the truth and ignores social taboos- something really refreshing and honest to read. It is this combination of honesty and hilarity which has made it so enjoyable to read. As a reader I found myself relating greatly to the text alongside questioning some of my pre-existing ideals.

I have also read her fictional text How to Build a Girl (2014) which has similar themes, so although cringing at times (I wont spoil as to why) I found this book to be a breath of fresh air as well.

If you haven’t already I would definitely recommend a read of both!

 

As always, thank you for reading! What are your favourite texts? Have you read any of the above? It would be brilliant to hear from you so please like/share/comment to your hearts content!

 

The Bookstop Cafe (Lincoln)  

Living in Lincoln I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by some brilliant bookworm hideouts! One of these is The Bookstop Cafe halfway up Steep Hill.

Today was my first visit, but I loved the location in the historic Cathedral Quarter of Lincoln. The cafe is in the refurbished basement of Imperial Teas of Lincoln, meaning there is a great range of coffees and tea. As you settle down into the plush leather sofas or wicker chairs, you are surrounded by bookshelves holding a range of fiction and non-fiction. There is even a shelf especially dedicated to books by local authors!

Whilst I was enjoying my hot chocolate (decorated with cream and marshmallows, of course) I spotted an original Bloomsbury cover version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I snatched the copy from the shelf, eager to see how much it would be. I’ve been trying to collect the original covered books as they were the ones I had as a child. Expecting Rowling’s book to be quite pricey, as they are online, I was delighted to see the price was only £1.50!

Content with my carrot cake, hot chocolate and newly acquired Harry Potter, I settled down to have a quiet read. The Bookstop Cafe is the perfect environment for this, the size meaning it is never noisy and they often play tranquil, classical music.

I’m so glad I gave it a try- I have a feeling I will be popping up the hill for a couple more visits!

As always, thank you for reading! Do you have a favourite place to go for a quiet read? Where do you find some bargain best sellers? Please feel free to comment/like/share!

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!

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.