A Compendium of Books to Pass the Time

Apologies. It’s been ages since I’ve posted, and the reasons are not very numerous or interesting… largely, I suppose, winter has got me down and there’s nothing academic happening in my life at the moment. I read, I write, I fret, I peddle toys at my dreadful temporary job. In short, I languish.

Late in January I submitted several funding applications and the prospect that I might not get any funding (again) was as much as I could stand for the time. So I left it and delved into a world of fiction and fantasy and began binging on violent, gritty books about troubled/sociopathic men. Bizarrely, this has provided some levity to what is otherwise a waiting game. Favourites from the past few months include American Psycho, Trainspotting, Whatever, and David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice (because we can’t all be serious all the time). I’ve attempted We the Drowned, but have somewhere in the vicinity of 250 pages yet to go and, because of my current mindset, the only parts that are really holding my interest are the wars, which seem to have mostly petered out by this point in the book. I’ll finish it sooner or later but needed to step away for a bit. I’m currently in the grips of Lanark, by Alasdair Grey, and I do highly recommend it; Glasgow as the setting for a modern day Inferno is pure genius.

All this fiction has been fun, but I have begun to tentatively peer back into books that light my academic fire, and recently started reading The Beggars Benison, by David Stevenson, about eighteenth century sex and masturbation clubs in the Forth region, as well as moving Karin Knorr Cetina’s treatise on the sociology of scientific and medical culture, Epistemic Cultures, from the shelf back to the bedside table -though it has remained firmly shut since emigrating across my bedroom. Besides these I’ve had the Wellcome’s newly digitized version of Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, or, Man of Pleasure’s Kalendar, for the year 1787 continually open in my browser for most of a week now; prostitution never sounded so noble or enriching as when described in the Introduction. After reading this introduction I jokingly lamented that were I a different sort of girl I might consider raising funds for my PhD this way. But for better or worse that is simply not an option for me.

Besides books I’ve been gorging myself on episodes of Limmy’s Show, as well as spending a reasonable amount of time working on personal and freelance writing projects. Academia feels a million miles away and Oh how I miss it. My former teacher-turned-employer at University of Edinburgh recently sent me a short note that my portrait has been installed in the stairwell of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, where I studied and worked. I find this humerus for a number of reasons: I don’t particularly care for the picture, and I am well aware that the portrait is only there because they liked it, not because anyone in any position of authority has any idea who I am, but I’m pleased nonetheless and take it as a good sign as I grasp for straws in these dark winter months.

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At least my hair looks good.

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