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January 24, 2018

Hot chocolate and a good book


One of my favourite things to do is to spend an afternoon reading in a cafe. Unfortunately, my bank balance is telling me to stop spending upwards of $6 on drinks, so I've been improvising at home and have come up with my own next-level hot chocolate, in an effort to use up several blocks of 86% dark chocolate my dad bought me (way too dark for me to eat on its own). I just put a cup of milk in a saucepan, heat it, and whisk in about 20-30g of the chocolate, a piece of sweeter milk or white chocolate, add honey to taste, and then a tiny bit of salt and chilli powder. It's pretty damn good, if I say so myself. I need to pick up some cinnamon to add to it next time. Marshmallows and whipped cream would be nice but I'm, uh, trying to be healthy.

Anyway, onto books. Last year wasn't the greatest reading year. I was almost always feeling tense about work, and when I'm stressed I find it difficult to concentrate on new or more heavy-duty books. Here are a couple I read since my last reading roundup - there have been others, but I honestly don't remember enough about them to say much.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw. About a doctor named Greta Helsing who treats supernatural creatures like vampires and mummies in London. It was a fun light read, nothing I'd re-read, but I'm keen for the next book in the series only cause I like the premise (of course).

Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit. A short collection of feminist essays you've probably heard of. It's really good, and some of them brought up interesting ideas, e.g. how opposition to marriage equality stems from misogyny, as same-sex marriage threatens the traditional gender role of a wife (female) being subservient to her husband (male).

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley. I don't remember how I came across this book but I loved it. It's magical realism set in the 19th century, a British man is sent to Peru on a dangerous expedition to collect quinine trees. He and his companion arrive in a mysterious town on the edge of a forest that the locals don't dare venture into. The imagery is beautiful.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I gave this one a try as I loved The Bedlam Stacks, but wasn't as into this book. It's about a watchmaker who's able to foresee the future. To be honest, I found the ending kind of confusing.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. It's about a couple who flee their home city because of civil unrest, using magical doors to travel to other places around the world. It's beautifully written and really bittersweet.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. This is a collection of short stories with feminist themes, all a bit dark and strange. They were a little hit-and-miss; I enjoyed a few of them, but not enough to re-read the whole collection.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. A hilarious account of the author's time spent working as a junior doctor in the NHS (he since quit and has become a comedian). It's tragically relatable, and I've been recommending it to all my medical friends.

Bone White by Ronald Malfi. A horror/thriller type book set in Alaska, not the kind I usually go for, but it was a fun ride. I did feel a little bit nervous getting out of bed to go to the bathroom when I finished the book.

Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French. I've been totally sucked into this series, which is about Murder detectives in Dublin, and you guys know I love a good detective novel. I'm up to book five, and while the later books aren't as good as the first two, I'm not intending to stop until I finish the next one (which is the last published so far). After which I'm not sure what I'll do with my life...

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