READING GOALS 2020 (+ Blogging goals!)

It’s that time of year again when I read all of the goals posts in the world, procrastinate doing my own by reading even more goals posts, and then finally post my own! I thought long and hard about these goals, and I edited x changed them a lot, so hopefully these should be good and push me just enough in the right direction! Without further ado, let’s begin!!!


READING GOALS


I decided to be a bit reasonable, but still challenge myself, with my goals this year, as I am trying to yank myself out of a 2-year slump (slowly easing hasn’t been working). Therefore, I have decided on five reading goals that I really want to accomplish this year!


GOAL #1: READ MORE INTERNATIONALLY

Being internationally-minded is so important to me, and I wanted this to be reflected more in my reading this year. Reading books written by authors from different countries not only gives an insight into the culture and attitudes of that country, but also opens me up to a whole load of literature that I have been missing out on!

To help us accomplish this goal, Adele (@bookishdella) and I are hosting the International Reading Challenge 2020! If you’re interested in reading more internationally this year, please check out the reading challenge!


GOAL #2: READ MORE CLASSICS

Over the past two years, whilst my reading has been slumpy, something I have been reading more of than ever is classics! This is 99.9% because of my English Literature class where I have to read a lot of books in two years (I think it’s around 13, which is a lot for a sixth form read: junior/senior year of high school English Lit class). That class will obviously finish when I graduate, which is happening in MAY!!!

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I won’t be studying English at university, so unless I read classics on my own it just won’t happen anymore, and seeing as 2/5 of my favourite books from last year were classics, that would be a shame! Therefore, I am making it a goal to read more classics this year, and I will be participating in the #CLASSICSCOMMUNITY READING CHALLENGE 2020 in order to make this happen! TBRs for this challenge as well as the International Reading Challenge are forthcoming.


GOAL #3: READ MORE BOOKS IN GERMAN.

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If you didn’t know, I’m pretty fluent in German, but English is my mother tongue, and I typically read in English, not German. That being said, reading in German helps me keep up the language which I don’t use that often. Plus, I have quite a few unread books in German on my TBR, so this goal should help me get through some of those! I believe I only read one book in German last year, and that was required reading, so really reading anything in German would be great!


GOAL #4: READ MORE BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR.

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I think I bought maybe 1? 2? books that were released in 2019, and I certainly didn’t read either of them. It’s not that there were no new releases, I just wasn’t really paying attention to them (or anything to do with books and blogging, let’s be honest). This year that will be different! To start, I will be posting about my most anticipated releases of the year soon, so please keep an eye out for that!


GOAL #5: READ MORE NON-FICTION.

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One thing I did read a lot of last year was non-fiction. Unfortunately, none of it took any books off my TBR… it only added more. And none of it counted for Goodreads either. Not that these are the most important things, but they do reflect something which does matter: I bought and got interested in a lot of non-fiction last year, none of which I was able to finish because I had to skip to the pages with relevant information for the paper I was writing and then move on to the next one!

This year will be the year that I read some of these amazing books from COVER TO COVER and absorb all the knowledge!


BONUS GOAL: PARTICIPATE IN READING CHALLENGES AND READ-A-THONS!

Now this is sort of a sub-goal, one that I will partially use to meet other goals, but it is also something I would like to focus on doing a bit more in 2020! If you know of any fun or exciting ones, please tell me about them!


BLOGGING GOALS


I don’t have many blogging goals this year, but I want to sort of ‘rediscover’ blogging, and hopefully do it better than before! I’ve been on a 6 month+ unofficial, unannounced hiatus, but now that I’m back I want to make this blog something I’m more proud of. Hopefully that means more creativity, and maybe some more critical posts, discussion posts etc. I might also do some travel related stuff later in the year, as well as continuing to share my thoughts on music! Essentially, there are three C’s I want to achieve when it comes to my blog in 2020: CREATIVITY, CONSISTENCY AND COURAGE!


And those are my goals! I have some personal ones and stuff, but let’s not air my dirty laundry on the internet (I’ll save that for when I actually reach the goals). In the meantime… leave me a comment about your goals!

  • What are your goals for 2020?
  • Do you know of any reading challenges or read-a-thons that I should participate in??!

Happy reading,

Keira x.

2019 in review: the best songs of 2019

And the last episode of my 2019 in review series is finally here! Yes I released all four parts on the same day… I have A LOT of posts that need to go up before January is already HALF OVER so it couldn’t be helped. Hopefully it has been a nice welcome back to my blog after my LONGGGG hiatus? Like with my top 5 books post, these aren’t in any particular order, but just a collection of my favourite albums and songs of the year!


Firstly, a quick honourable mention to MAX’s Hell’s Kitchen Angel that I loved this year, but was released previously and therefore doesn’t count!


BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR


Catfish and the Bottlemen- The Balance


It wasn’t until I was struggling to decide which song from this album deserved to be a song of the year that I realised it was hopeless, I loved this album and the whole thing had to be here. So here it is.

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a Welsh rock band who were formed in 2007 and have been releasing stunning albums ever since. As they are a rock band, naturally, this is a rock album.

Songs to listen to include my personal favourites Basically, and Overlap, but listen to any song and you’re in for a treat.


Jus2- FOCUS


Jus2 is a 2-member sub-unit of boygroup GOT7 and is made up of two Korean vocalists: JB and Yugyeom. This is the duos debut album, although Yugyeom has been around since 2014, and JB since 2012.

Both have released songs on Soundcloud before, and their personal sounds are very evident in this R&B-meets-House album. A sprinkle of pop and K-Pop production magic makes this the perfect in-between album to appeal to fans of both their solo and group work.

Songs to listen to include the chic title track, FOCUS ON ME, the brighter track Touch, and the seductive Toiki (Sigh), which was released on the Japanese edition of the album (wait to the end for the best part).


IU- Love Poem


IU is one of my favourite Korean solo artists. She’s been around since 2008 and is incredibly beloved in Korea, although she doesn’t receive nearly as much attention in the West. Her voice is gorgeous, her songs are well produced and have an IU-quality that make them incredibly special.

I always look forward to IU’s work and this is my favourite album from her since 2013’s Modern Times. In fact, this album brings back some of the jazzy sounds of the 2013 album, along with a mix of slow R&B and emotional ballads, for a varied but perfectly cohesive album.

Songs to listen to include Blueming and above the time, both of which have music videos, as well as Love Poem, which is incredibly beautiful and was released as a single prior to the album coming out.


Honourable mentions go to GOT7’s Spinning Top: Between Security and Insecurity, and TWICE’s Feel Special! Please check these albums out to and give them all the love!


BEST SONGS OF THE YEAR


The Night of Seokyo- Dancing In The Moon (ft. Dawon)


The Night of Seokyo are a K-Indie production crew that have been around since 2016. They often work with vocalist Dawon, who is featured on this track, and her vocals make the song even more expressive with her dreamy vocal colour. Dancing in the Moon is my favourite of their songs to date and really encompasses the sound and dreaminess that I have come to associate with their work.


Lee So Ra- Song Request (ft. SUGA)


Lee So Ra is a beloved singer in Korea. She first debuted in 1993 as part of a jazz group, and released her first solo album in 1995. As an artist she is incredibly versatile, having sung everything from heavy rock to soft ballads, and this latest song is definitely towards the ballad side. Suga’s rap here is soft and heartfelt, adding to the heart-warming and comforting atmosphere of the song. I highly recommend watching the music video above with English captions on as the lyrics are particularly beautiful.


GOT7- Page


GOT7 are a boygroup with 7 members who debuted in 2014. PAGE is a b-side track off of their album Spinning Top: Between Security & Insecurity and was written and produced by member JB (of Jus2, above) in collaboration with other producers. The group initially wanted this to be the title track, but it was passed up for the more marketable ECLIPSE, but I can see why they wanted this to be the title track: it’s full to the brim with personality and catchy hooks.


Honourable mentions go to Red Velvet’s Sunny Side Up! and TAEYEON’s Four Seasons! Please give these amazing songs a listen.


And those were my favourite releases of 2019! Feel free to discuss your own favourite music in the comments, I would love to hear what you have been listening to!

  • What were your favourite albums of 2019?
  • What were your favourite songs of 2019?
  • Were there any songs here you didn’t know?
  • Did you like any of these songs too? Or do you disagree with me?

Happy listening,

Keira x.

2019 in review: music stats

Okay, so you might have seen my bookish stats post that I posted earlier today…. but here is the music version! Enjoy!


So this first set of statistics includes all the music I LISTENED to in 2019. Unsurprisingly, my most listened to songs, artists and genre were K-Pop. That being said, less than half of my listening was K-Pop, as you can see by the little genre chart on the right. The most surprising part of this was a) that I listen to a lot of native american music (must be the instrumental stuff I like) and b) that TWICE’s BDZ (Japanese song) was my most listened to song! I think I listened to it on repeat for about 2 weeks in the summer when I had it stuck in my head, and then never really listened to it again! I’m not surprised that GOT7 was my most listened to artist though- their albums this year were top-quality, and I went to a concert as well. I thought Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now would be amongst my top songs, as well as MAX’s Hell’s Kitchen Angel, but apparently I didn’t listen to them as much as I thought I did!

Also can I just point out that I listen to music from over 40 countries this year. I’m pretty proud of that!

As for the songs I downloaded, I don’t have any stats on the non-Korean stuff (I will keep track this coming year), but of the 2019 releases I downloaded, the sub-genres and artist types were pretty varied. Female solo artists were my favourite, as was pop, followed closely by Ballad and R&B. I downloaded a fair bit of rock as well, but I tend to listen to most of my rock from western bands (shout out to Catfish & the Bottlemen who had a great year), so I’m not surprised that it was a bit lower than other genres.


I will be posting my definitive favourite songs of the year post soon, so please keep an eye out! In the meantime, have a chat in the comments!

  • What were your most-listened to artists and genres this year?
  • How is your music taste different to mine?
  • Are there any songs/artists I liked that you didn’t?

Happy listening,

Keira x.

2019 in review: top 5 books of 2019

Welcome to 2019 in review episode 2! There was no way for me to decide which of these was my favourite, so instead of pitting my favourite books together, here are my favourite books of the year!


Perfume by Patrick Süskind

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This book was one that took me a long time to read, but I like to think that I was simply savouring its deliciousness. It was definitely worth it when I finished it, and I gave it 5 stars.

Perfume is a modern classic which was published by the German author Patrick Süskind in 1985. It is set in 18th Century France and follows the story of Grenouille, a man with an amazing sense of smell who feels apart from society. It follows him as he escapes the smells of the city to explore the world of scents, which eventually leads him to becoming a rather horrific murder in the name of creating the ‘ultimate perfume’.

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Grenouille is undeniably a disgusting and twisted character, who is completely unaware of the fact, which is at once interesting and even more horrifying. The story is told from his perspective: he is the protagonist, and so you feel compelled to sympathise with him, understand him, even as you are revolted and reviled by what he is doing. It is, at times, rather uncomfortable to read, but every second is worth it and Süskind has managed to give us a beautifully crafter insight into the mind of the unashamedly depraved (with a side of beautiful description and information about perfume making).


The Royal Tutor by Higasa Aki

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On a more light-hearted note, say hello to my new favourite manga series! I swithered between picking this one or Black Butler, as I gave both 4 stars (highly unusual for a manga), I read more of this series (the first 3 volumes) so I ended up picking this one.

The Royal Tutor is a manga series by the Japanese artist and illustrator Higasa Akai, the first volume of which was originally published in 2014. The story is set in a fictional country, most likely inspired by a 17th/18th Century Austria-esque country, and follows the genius Heine Wittgenstein, who is enlisted by the King to teach the four princes.

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The characters were the stars of this story: each of the four princes has a distinct and vibrant personality, and Heine himself is full of fire, defying his tiny size to prove an unstoppable force. Beyond this, both the complexity and richness of family and teacher-student relationships are thoughtfully explored. The story is light-hearted and funny, and the art is adorable, but Akai also addresses many issues faced by young people, and how the right teacher can change a child’s life, adding a level of depth that makes this my favourite manga series to date.


The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

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This is a book that people seem to either love or hate, and I am definitely one of the former. I started reading it at work, almost cried, bought it during my lunch break and finished it the same day. Any book which manages to drive me to tears at work is definitely worthy of 5 stars.

The Sun and Her Flower is a book of verse by Canadian writer and artist Rupi Kaur and was published in 2017. Kaur is the daughter of immigrant parents, and in this book she discusses what that means, the lessons she has learnt from her mother, and the lessons she had to learn for herself. The book is not a collection of poems, nor is it a continuous narrative told in verse, but something in between. A collection of poems, many of which alone would have little impact, but when as part of a collective form a bigger picture like strokes of paint in a painting.

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Whilst the poems about self-love, finding oneself, and sexual harassment were interesting and contributed wonderfully to the overall impression of the book, it was the poems about the narrator’s relationship with her mother that almost made me cry, perhaps because I saw some of my own relationship with my mother reflected in that. This is the type of book that you will want to call your mum after reading and thank her for everything she has done for you (unless she hasn’t, in which case I am sorry, please call someone who has). You can read my full review for this book here.


A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

This play was one I hd ot red for my English Lit. class and has become my favourite play of all time (it shares the position with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing). Obviously, I gave it 5 stars.

The play was written by American playwright Tennessee Williams in 1947, and in contrast to much of post-war American plays, exposes many of the domestic issues in the US as it takes us on a journey through the dramatic life of Blanche. The story starts with Blanche moving to live with her sister, Stella, and her sister’s husband, Stanley, in New Orleans. Blanche is very out of pace in her new environment and slowly, the truth of why she has come to the city is exposed. Nothing is as it seems about Blanche, and Stanley hates her. But Stanley is no hero either.

There are no good characters. There are no completely evil characters, but no good characters either. Perhaps that is what I loved most about this book. I expect to sympathise with Blanche, especially after some the things she has experienced (no spoilers here!), but I just can’t. And I don’t mind: I love the story even more for it, which is unusual for me. I think it’s because Williams makes me care about the characters and what happens to them without making me feel sympathy for them. I don’t know how he accomplishes it, but this play truly is a masterpiece of plot and writing, too.


After Dark by Haruki Murakami

This was my first proper introduction to both Haruki Murakami and Japanese literature and I have never looked back. I had read a single Murakami short-story prior to this (Birthday Girl), but this was where my newfound love for Japanese literature, and specifically Murakami, began.

After Dark is a novel written by contemporary Japanese author Haruki Murakami and was originally published in 2004. It is one of his less famous ones, but I loved it. It follows two sisters in the middle of the night: Eri, who is sleeping herself into oblivion, and Mari who starts out in a cafe and finds herself wrapped up in the lives of people very different to herself, from jazz trombonists with important life lessons to bestow, to Chinese prostitutes who need her help.

This book has combines the magical realism and contemporary of Murakami’s writing. Eri’s story with a magical mystique that is both sinister and wonderful, whilst the stark and sometimes brutal realism of Mari’s chapters jolts the reader back to reality. This contrast works particularly well in allowing Murakami to explore a variety of huge questions about life, but also reflects the clear differences between glamourous model Eri and book-reading, cigarette-smoking Mari. The writing style feels as if we are behind the camera filming a TV show, focus shifted by the lens of the camera, taken where the director pleases, and this only adds to the sense that we are observing real people. Quiet, listening, watching, as they go about their lives: it’s the best kind of people watching.


And that’s all I have for today!! Don’t forget to talk to me in the comments, I would love to know what you thought of these books!

  • Have you read any of these books? Did you like them as much as I did?
  • What were your favourite books of 2019?

Please recommend your favourite books of the year, or leave a link to your own post below and I’ll be sure to check them out!!