Book Reviews · books · Literature · Uncategorized

Review: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – ‘All is not as it seems’

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Fun-Fact: Did you know the word Scientist didn’t exist when Frankenstein was first published in 1818. Before the word was coined in 1833 by William Whewell, Scientists would have been referred to as Natural Philosophers, who were studiers of nature and the physical universe.

Gothic literature isn’t my go-to genre but it caught my attention when I had to read a book called, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764) for a module I was taking at university. The book also happens to be the first gothic novel and became a source of inspiration for future gothic writers. When I think about it, I don’t actually like Gothic or horror movies at all, i’ve dabbled a bit but after watching Nosferatu (1922) as a kid when I was supposed to be asleep, I pretty much stayed away from the genre up until a couple of years ago where again I had to watch a number of gothic films for a module.

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When you hear the word Frankenstein, I’m sure some version of the image to the right comes to mind, comes to mind – along with the indistinct groans, the out-stretched arms and every Halloween costume sold during the month of October. However, all was not as it seemed… When I began reading the book, two things became very clear:

1 – Frankenstein is not the name of the monster; but the name of his creator.

2 – The monster is not a mindless creature in a blazer but is in fact, an intellectual, compassionate, conscious being who speaks as if he’s a character taken straight from one of Shakespeare’s plays. He craves human interaction, to the point where he is so lonely that he begs his creator to create another being like himself, after he is rejected by human beings. Who would have thought it?

Victor Frankenstein spends the majority of the story becoming increasingly deranged after he creates the monster’ and the rest trying to avoid then search and destroy his creature. The two main narratives make for sympathetic characters which enables the reader to gain enough of an understanding as to why both characters make the decisions they do. Ultimately the story becomes one of revenge, remorse and regret. It’s interesting, had the story been written solely from the perspective of Victor, I probably would have shared his opinions about the monster but as the story progressed and I learned the drastic reasons behind his motivations, the scary ‘Frankenstein’ monster many of us imagine upon hearing the name, began to steadily disappear.

Overall, I rather enjoyed reading Frankenstein, it wasn’t the story I expected when I started reading and I definitely didn’t expect to feel sympathy for the monster. Moreover, the questions it raises about creation, evolution and humanity become very intriguing, particularly when you consider the time the novel was published in.

Would I recommend reading this novel? Absolutely! The story was compelling, it’s an easy-read and I feel, a good introduction to the monster side of the gothic genre. And for you English-lit buffs out there, I think one of the better (Western) literary canons.

4.1 / 5
Media · Podcasting

Podcasts are Love, Podcasts are Life

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I hadn’t realised how long I’d been listening to podcasts until a podcast I listen to celebrated its 11 year anniversary. Of those 11 I’ve been a listener for 8 almost 9 years which is – when I stop to think about it, a long time to be a fan of anything. A lot of what I listen to is based on what I’m currently interested in, where it be television, film, things that intrigue me or want to learn more about.

Initially podcasts were a way for me to engage more with the two things my 16 year old self absolutely loved and adored, the first was Harry Potter and the second was Twilight. I know you might raise your brow or chuckle at the thought of the latter, but at the time they were my two favourite things to talk about and finding out there was a whole community out there who shared the same passions for these fandoms was a revelation to me.

And so, the Twilight series ended, my love for all things Harry Potter continued and throughout the years when I became interested in particular TV shows or began a new hobby I subscribed to podcasts – and that’s pretty much been the process ever since. There’s so much variety and so many to choose from that I’ve never been short of something to listen to. On long commutes, short walks to the supermarket, whilst cleaning my room, making dinner, organising my bookshelf, during lunch breaks, whilst getting dressed, travelling etc. There are at least 20 other places I can name where I’ve listened to a podcast – the list is endless.

I’ve tried a number of podcast apps over the years but my favourite has to be ‘Player FM‘, so if you do want to download a podcast app, that’s the one I’d recommend.

Here are a few podcasts that I listen to regularly, and think would be a good starting point:

1. Stuff You Should Know
Learning new things or learning about things that I should know is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. And so I stumbled on this podcast which pretty much teaches you how, for example ice ages work, how motion sickness works, how makeup works, whether computer addiction is a thing, how reverse psychology works, why we stare, the origins of fairy tales and why we’re read Miranda Rights. There are 100s of episodes to choose from so you’ll never be short of something to learn and they’re also relatively short, so you could very well learn about why humans stare in just a single bus journey.

2. Alohomora
It had been a while since I’d done a full re-read of the Harry Potter series, this time I wanted to read the books (without skipping Order of the Phoenix) and gain more insight into how the story progressed from the perspective of others who enjoyed reading the series too. To my surprise there were many podcasts doing chapter by chapter re-reads of Harry Potter; Alohomora was the first one I came across and let me tell you I didn’t know how in-depth both the hosts and readers could get with their analysis of this story until I started listening to this podcast. I’ve learnt so much more about the Harry Potter universe and J.K Rowling’s writing than I would have on my own.

3. Mysterious Universe
This isn’t generally the type of thing that I’m into but I find a lot of what is discussed interesting and intriguing. It’s basically two hosts who explore and discuss the vast and mysterious things that happen on Earth. From Big Foot, alien encounters (I’ll never forget the first of the alien encounter episode I listened to – so fascinating but so creepy), conspiracy theories, cosmology, near-death experiences and so much more. Sceptics beware.

A few other podcasts I’d recommend checking out are Mugglecast another Harry Potter podcast, which is also the very first podcast I started listening to (can you tell I’m a fan). Collider a movie-centric podcast, and if you love Game of Thrones like I do, give Game of Thrones the Podcast a listen.

If you do decide to start listening to podcasts after reading this post, I refuse to be held responsible for all the unintentional smiling and laughing you might do in public.

Happy podcasting!  

Life · Publishing · Publishing Industry · Publishing Life · work

Me, Myself and the only person who looks like I

I don’t really know where to start.

It’s been a while since I’ve written this extensively about anything, so please excuse me if I begin to ramble… Oddly enough, I don’t actually like writing much anymore, it’s still something that I’m trying to get back into. I had a pretty horrific experience writing my dissertation last year… but that’s a story for another time.

What I want to talk about or rather discuss is my experience working in the publishing industry.

Over the past few months I’ve been fortunate enough to have secured a number of work placements at publishing houses based in London. The first thing I want to get out-of-the-way and confirm is that yes. I enjoyed my time at each placement, the people were overall, welcoming, willing to help and were happy to show me how to do things when I asked. (I’ll make a separate post regarding the actual experience and what I ended up doing during those weeks soon). The second, and what the meat of this post is going to be about is that although the people I met and those who took time to get to know me, were nicer than I expected, I couldn’t help but notice one thing: as I searched the office and smiled back at the different faces I was being introduced to, mine was the only face that looked like my own. And by that I mean, I was the only person of colour.

I’m going to be very honest about this, it’s something that I’ve never really discussed with anybody other than my parents. It’s pretty much become something that I choose to more or less overlook, not because I want to but because – well in that moment, I’m just a work-experiencee and in the basic truth of the situation, it’s not really my place to. Which is why I’m here writing this – not to complain or wallow in my sorrows but to invite you to understand a little bit of how I and I’m certain, others experience the working world from this perspective.

Now by this point in my life being the only black girl when I walk into a room is nothing new – it’s something that I’ve become used to; this however wasn’t the case. when I began University back in 2012 – being the only black girl was something that I had to adjust to. Having lived and attended schools that were both very multi ethnic for my entire life, entering seminars and seeing that not many or nobody in the room looked like me, was at times intimidating. Intimidating because I felt this strange pressure that made me more aware of myself in a way that I knew I shouldn’t be. Until very recently I was finally able to make sense of this strange pressure through the words of Indian American comedian, Hassan Minhaj who said:

❝Everyone is going to expect you to be the mouthpiece for the entire group❞.

Being someone who is not too keen on being the centre of attention, this was a responsibility i at times felt I’d become laden with – and again this feeling of being more aware of myself than I should be, remained a constant facet both throughout my time at university and during my year abroad. Subsequent to this, being the only black girl is a reality I’ve become used to. I hadn’t realised the extent to which this had become so normalised to me until during a chance encounter with a group of mutual friends, when I met another black girl, who I quickly became good friends with due to our shared experience of being the only person of colour in our particular surroundings.

And so in the same way that representation is beginning to increasingly matter in the entertainment industry – more specifically in film, television and literature. For me this same notion is also very relevant when it comes to the workplace. I can’t begin to describe to you what if feels like to see someone who may have had a similar experience to your own – it truly makes all the difference.  The fact that there is a push or now a requirement for BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) to be recognised within the workplace is both significant because it’s acknowledged as an ongoing issue by society and indicative because it shows just how much further there is to go in the convoluted discussion concerning diversity.

Ultimately it is a matter of learning how to adapt and adjust to situations, I won’t lie, it can be disheartening, I wish I could tell my 17 year old self that I would eventually be just fine because there was a time where I did feel uncomfortable and self-aware – I still do to an extent but I’m used to it. I genuinely enjoy working in the publishing industry, I like to read, obsessively edit and learn about some of the unique stories people have to tell but ultimately, walking into a new work environment and noticing that there aren’t any other people who look like you does have an effect and again, though I’m used to the feeling, it’s not one that I necessarily like.