The BEST CLASSICS YOU Have TO READ (or re-read) THIS SUMMER

I have always LOVED reading. I can remember being about 8 years old and hooked on the Potter books before physically moving into the world of Robert Muchamore’s spy academy. Seriously, my childhood was either spent in Hogwarts or being a CHERUB – you could not get me out. As I moved into my teen years, of course I was into young fiction. Looking back, I think that’s where I got most of my ideas about love and fantasy. As I got older though I became more fascinated in classics – particularly in contemporary dystopian novels where I’m transported into a world of misfortune and sadness. Anyway, I digress. Here is my list of my top 5 novels (new and old) that you have to read.

  1. The Body – Bill Bryson

Last year, the American author Bill Bryson came out with his latest non-fiction novel. As someone who rarely reads non-fiction books, I was blown away by the style of Bryson’s writing and how it was able to keep me engaged. It’s a good read for those who are curious about every aspect of the body. Bryson keeps you on your toes from the moment you open the book to the last page; with facts about the heart, face, brain and every bodily system you can think of. I would highly recommend this book, and to be frank, its the book that started my non-fiction journey.

2. Station 11 – Emily St John Mandel

This book was actually recommended to me at a book club I attended two years ago. It’s about a virus that takes over the world in less than 24 hours (uncanny), killing everyone it infects within a matter of hours. The story follows several characters along their lives 20 years after the virus hit. The themes and storylines that are brought up in this book haunted me for for at least a year. St John Mandel’s writing is amazing and this book was an absolute page turner. I mean, it was such a good book, that I had to write a 20 page essay on its characters and themes, definitely worth the read.

3. 1984 – George Orwell

My battered copy of Orwell’s 1984 has been passed down from my great uncle to my dad and then to me. I read it first when I was 10 and revisited the book a few years later. Only then did I realise how many important points I had missed. If you don’t know the book already; it follows the protagonist Winston Smith who represents the feelings of every human being in a twisted, dark world. Orwell writes with so much subtext, warning the world of what there will be to come.

4. The Handmaid’s tale – Margaret Atwood

Again, I have to add this dystopian classic. It was actually released a few years the hit 1984. Atwood found it so eye-opening that she decided to write her own and in my opinion, she did it better. Not only does she create an entire world where the world goes to shit and people have to deal with it, Atwood created a masterpiece that will hold relevancy not only today but for hundreds and thousands of years to come – that’s where the beauty lies. The sequel to ‘A Handmaid’s tale’ is ‘The Testaments’ which talks about the the fall of Gilead.

‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes’

Mark TWAIN

5. When breath becomes air – Paul Kalanithi

I remember reading this book on the train from London to Brighton. The first three-quarters or so of the book was written by the award-winning late Dr Kalanithi, who wrote about his time as a neurosurgeon. The book was finished by his wife after he sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2015. It’s heartbreaking but beautifully written, the majority of the time I was laughing through the tears – it’s a good read.

The BEST CLASSICS YOU Have TO READ (or re-read) THIS SUMMER

I have always LOVED reading. I can remember being about 8 years old and hooked on the Potter books before physically moving into the world of Robert Muchamore’s spy academy. Seriously, my childhood was either spent in Hogwarts or being a CHERUB – you could not get me out. As I moved into my teen […]

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DAY TRIPS AFTER LOCKDOWN

When the lockdown restrictions were lifted, my family and I were at great difficulty when picking a place to visit for a day trip. You see, for the last 12 weeks we had been reminiscing our old trips and optimistically researching and planning new ones for the near future. We had so many places on […]

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reminiscing düsseldorf

The current travel restrictions put in place due to the pandemic means that most of us have been stuck at home and can only flick through holiday albums and fantasise about about the trips we were due to take this year. For me, it’s Düsseldorf. The prominent German city which sits east of the Rhine […]

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Unconventional methods of dating

Online dating is not a brand new concept; In fact, it’s been around for almost three decades. Although the discovery of new technology allowed websites such as match.com develop into applications on our mobile phones, the objective of matching with a stranger online and having a potential relationship with them has remained the same. Popular dating apps include Eharmony, Zoosk, Tinder and the budding Bumble. Having previously tried Tinder before, I was keen to use Bumble as I had not really heard of it before and intrigued to find out what was in store.

As ironic as it may sound now, I wasn’t actively looking for a relationship. I strongly believe these things should never be forced and so, without much anticipation or expectation, I opened up the app.

Initial thoughts: I particularly liked the colour scheme; a strong golden yellow, which was attractive to the eye and useful for making your profile radiant. The concept being to find the pollen to your queen bee, in other words, your soulmate/best friend. The app allows you to have up to six images of yourself, a short biography as well as connect your Instagram and Spotify. This is what my profile looked like: (excluding images)

When writing a biography, it’s best to include your passions and something that represents your personality. In my case, this was something quite comical (as I find myself to be quite the comedian). The profiles that didn’t particularly catch my attention and immediately made me swipe left (reject) were the ones that said something along the lines of “swipe right for a good time” or “life-guard, so actually certified to give you mouth to mouth”. Yes, this was a real one.. I mean, it’s good to be a little enigmatic but there is a fine line between mysterious and unpleasant. Additionally, the best profiles also had the most intriguing images. They were often filled with colour and showed a genuine personality. Selfies are mediocre but the bee wants the flower with the most character, so perhaps use pictures of you travelling or partaking in a hobby. 

Unlike other dating apps, an advantageous feature Bumble is that it only allows the female to start a conversation with their match. Having an app that is so female orientated creates a sense of safety and a has a non-traditional value in which the male does not make the first move. Another compelling feature is that there is a 24 hour time cap to begin a conversation with your match including an additional 24 hours in which your match can respond. This gives only 2 days to strike up a conversation with someone, differing to other dating sites where the match can be kept on hold and dragged out for several months. This urges you to make a move as fast as possible meaning more bees buzz faster! Although, if the female does not start a conversation with her match, then there is an option for the male to use a ‘daily extend’, where you can remain matched for an additional day.

In my experience, the best conversation starters go along the lines of “Hey, how you doing?” or simply asking about their day. This will allow your match to open up and get the conversation going. A simple “hello” will not give your match a lot of work with, neither will a cringey pick up line. I started nearly all my conversations with a “Hey, how you doing?” followed by something that intrigued me about their profile. Once I received a reply from my matches, I was able to see who really had a genuine interest in me. 

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This was the only person who responded to the likes and interests of my profile which definitely got my attention, and I was intrigued to know more about them.
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I was a little confused by this one… he loves reading but hasn’t finished a book yet? I didn’t think it would be necessary continuing this conversation.
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And of course some just weren’t as serious as others.
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This was funny and flirtatious, again drawing me closer for more conversation.

The best response were the ones to reciprocate my questions and ask more about me.  My passion for crime novels and English literature was shared with a complete stranger and we were able to connect on a deeper level and speak more personally about ourselves so I began to develop a genuine interest in this person. This was my Bumble boy .That being said, this is how you can ‘over’ do things:

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You will know once the foundations of a potential relationship has been set when you begin to connect on other social media platforms other than the app itself. You begin to have a mix of constant flirting as well deep, meaningful heart to heart conversations and sending each other pictures of what we’ve come across in our day. For example; myself and Bumble boy would send each other pictures of the books we’re reading or bargains we’ve found at the supermarket for a few weeks or so (Yes, this is what adulting feels like). Then came the conversation of meeting up. He was always reassuring me that he did not want to push anything or make me feel uncomfortable in any way. Even so, just like most people, I felt anxious about meeting a stranger from the internet. He would always say “The worst case scenario is that I’m 50 and I’m fat but we are meeting in a public gallery and I most definitely not kill you!” – bearing in mind we both love crime novels and always come up with ways to kill each other when we’re flirting (grim, but sexy). 

The thought of meeting someone from online may sound daunting, and there are correct ways to approach this. Do meet in a public space – you will never know the intentions of the person you are meeting and even if you think you know them, you can never be sure. Make your place of meeting easily accessible for the both of you. You don’t need to travel lengths to meet someone for the first time, why not meet in the middle? Always let a close friend or family member know where you are at all times and what you’re doing – prepare for the worst case scenario. My match and I decided to meet up at a gallery in London during the afternoon. It had many visitors but was also quiet enough so we could communicate with each other clearly. We went on a long walk through Hyde Park and I showed him my favourite spots in London (since he was new to the city). Don’t pressure yourself to make a move with your match, first let the conversation flow and learn to feel comfortable in each others’ presence. If it was not meant to be, you will know so always prepare to be disappointed at least in the slightest.

I have a humiliating history of not being asked out on a second date. To my surprise, Bumble boy messaged me after our meeting and told me he enjoyed my company and would like to meet again. Triumph! I mainly think this was because I went to our date with no expectations. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to look amazing or be funny like I would do on most other dates, I also didn’t have any expectations from him..

Solitude: Collections from an amateur poet

Friends

Friends come and friends go,

All the memories leave in a flow.

Now I know how victims feel 

when the bullies push and threat to kill.

Nobody to protect them; they’re all alone.

But friends will sit and moan and moan.

Then when they move and leave you behind,

You have nothing to do and can only hide.

That lonely feeling which makes you remember,

The laughter and love that you thought would last forever.

And now I’m sitting here all alone,

Nobody to hug, to sit with or moan.

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