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10th September
written by Steph

I promise y'all, I am still alive and indeed, I am even still reading (haphazardly) and writing (even more haphazardly!). I've just had so much school stuff to wade through at the moment (did anyone else know that PhD programs are devilishly time-/life-consuming?), that by the end of the day I'm often too exhausted to muster up the energy to read anything above and beyond celebrity gossip websites (If someone wanted to volunteer to weed through my feedreader, which has never been as abundant with unread posts as it is now, I'd love you forever!), and writing is pretty much out of the question. Unless, of course, I'm getting paid some ducats! Money is a powerful motivator after all... It doesn't hurt that the fiction editor over at BookPage also happens to be a good friend, so Trisha lets me comb through the books each month and pick out ones that appeal to me so that I have a halfway decent chance of actually liking the books that I'm reading for them (hurrah for nepotism!). For September, I elected to try Ali Smith's latest novel, There But For The, despite having reviewed one of her books way back when I first started this blog and not having (m)any kind words for it at all. I probably would have been fine living an Ali-Smith-free existence, but her new book did sound intriguing and I quickly flipped through it to make sure it didn't have any poetry before picking it! Thankfully for all of us, I liked There But For The loads more than I did The Accidental, and found it the right kind of quirky with the kind of word games that I could really get behind. It's certainly intellectual and absurd, so it's good that I tackled it before my brain got overloaded by school work and turned to goo, but at the same time, it wasn't a book I felt I had to work at to read so don't let the fact that it's a smart book be a turn-off. After all, I love nothing more than a smart book or a smart woman (hence the PhD program)! For more coherent thoughts on There But For The, check out my full review at BookPage here. Also, I have something like 6 books that I've been meaning to review, only writing has been soooo hard of late. Honestly, using one's brain to think about abstract scientific problems for, like, 50 hours a week is really exhausting. I am going to try my best to get this back-log cleared up as soon as a I can, but please understand that if my posts are less frequent than either of us would like, it's not for lack of love, but really lack of neuronal firing power.


  1. 09/10/2011

    Personally, I don’t know how you do it! I don’t think I read one single “leisure” book when I was in school! And keeping up with a reader would be totally impossible!!! Plus you do knitting and cooking and all kinds of other things. Amazing!!!

  2. 09/11/2011

    Nice to see you back after a while, Steph 🙂 Sorry to know that your research work is quite hectic. The silver lining is that after sometime, we can call you Dr.Steph 🙂 Nice to know that you liked Ali Smith’s book. I have seen her books at the bookstore, but have never got around to browsing them. But I remember, when I read Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘After You’d Gone’, I saw Ali Smith’s comment on it – that as a fellow writer, she was so jealous of Maggie O’Farrell and she wanted to not say a good thing about the book, but after reading it, she fell in love with it. I loved Ali Smith’s comment. Will look for this book of hers. All the best with your research!

  3. 09/11/2011

    I am glad to see you, even in this brief appearance, and hope that you are doing well. I can imagine that there are just too many things pushing and pulling you in all directions, and when that happens to me, the reading and writing are the first things to go. I am off to check out your review of the Smith, but I hope you are able to take it easy and relax so you can come back to us fresh!

  4. Ha! Who knew indeed, about the PhD that ate the world. I can’t believe you have any time for anything else. I’m glad this was a good one if it was a worthy break in your studies. Congrats on your progress and good luck!

  5. 09/13/2011

    Glad to know everything is ok at S&TI Central! Don’t feel too pressured to blog, or else the fun is over.

    PS: I just wrote some thoughts on A Reliable Wife and I remember reading a less-than-favorable review of yours I’d like to add to the blog-roll, but couldn’t find it (was it censured? :P)

  6. 09/16/2011

    @ rhapsody: I didn’t read anything for fun when I was an undergrad, but given that grad school has now been SEVEN years of my life, I think I’d be a zombie if I didn’t read for pleasure! 😀
    @ Vishy: I can’t wait for the day I am Dr. Steph (and Tony will have to call me Dr. Wife)! It’s one of the things that keeps me going… 😉
    This is a good Ali Smith place to start, I think. She doesn’t remind me a ton of Maggie O’Farrell, though I suppose they both use similar devices from time to time, but there are plenty of good authors out there besides Maggie O. and the more diversity, the better!
    @ zibilee: I think my brain is finally starting to thaw after being frozen with exhaustion for the past two months or so. Suddenly I am feeling more energized and less like I’ve suffered a lobotomy! I just hope it sticks around! 😀
    @ Pam: Thanks for the kind words! Currently I’m in a bit of a rut, where I want a book that’s going to be a good diversion, but at the same time not be overly challenging (or overly insipid)! Let’s just say I’ve been reading a lot of Julia Quinn romance novels and leave it at that! 😉
    @ Alex: Given the lack of updates, you can see that I clearly don’t force myself to post when I don’t feel like it. I’m slowly depleting my backlog of books to review, however, so I’ll have to get back into the reading game or else I’ll have nothing to write about!

  7. 09/16/2011

    This sounds like a book I would enjoy! I have yet to read Ali Smith, but I’ve been meaning to for a while. I’m looking forward to it.

  8. 09/17/2011

    Good luck with the studies, Steph. I admire anyone who decides to tackle a PhD. I signed up to do mine in 1996 but had a change of heart before I’d even begun, and quit!

    Finding time to read is hard enough, but then finding time to blog about the stuff you read is even harder!

    Glad to see you gave Ali Smith a second chance. I have this one in my reading queue and will get to it once I’ve finished all my Giller Prize readings.

  9. 09/23/2011

    @ Rebecca H: I could definitely see this book being your speed! I hope you get a chance to try it!
    @ kim: Thanks for the vote of confidence… this is the start of my 7th year now, so I am ready to be done with it!

  10. 10/05/2011

    I wasn’t a huge fan of The Accidental which left me feeling uncomfortable (it’s such a long time ago that I read it that I can’t exactly remember why), but seeing your post has made me want to give this one a go. And good luck with the PhD, it’s hard work but worth it in the end!

  11. 10/05/2011

    @ sakura: Oh, I hated The Accidental… it didn’t make me uncomfortable so much as it made me mad, though! I think it says a lot, then, that I really did like this book quite a bit and found it interesting and fun, given my past negative experience with this author! Give it a try… I think it will surprise you!

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