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Yes, yes, I know this is me coming back early, but my new self-imposed schedule of great rigour dictates that I return to you, dear ZatB readers, today, though not yet to the blogosphere proper. It has been a completely splendid break. I had actually forgotten what it’s like to not wake up at dawn with blog-induced tension and to be able to chill out without worrying about my feedreader! Clearly some radical restructuring of my life is in order, hence scheduling.

As I mentioned, I spent (am spending!) my month off reading! And interacting with my fellow humans (sometimes even on Saturday nights!?!?!)! And zoning out in front of the television! And being completely unable to deal with not working and so overhauling my resume three (yes, three) times (I had to choose the right font for the header and sort out the spacing and change the descriptions and add in bits I had forgotten, okay?) and fantasising about being published in various publications such as will remain nameless!

But: mostly reading, as friends and income are concerns quite beneath my attention (I kid). As we know, my reading goal for this year is 100 books. I’m on book 29, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, which is about a society in which people are ranked according to their ability to perceive certain colours (I’m pretty sure? I’m about 10 pages in). I read a lot of young adult fiction and fantasy this month. I’m trying to get away from the attitude that reading those kinds of books is somehow cheating or indulgent whereas grownup books about the everyday world are the proper and important sort of thing to read.

I’ll just tell you about a few of my favourites. Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall was brilliant. It’s about a young woman who dies in a car crash and has to relive the last day of her life six times. The set-up has been done before, but it’s beautifully played, and it’s so good to see the heroine come back from her obnoxious persona to her essential self. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer is told entirely in letters, and got me longing for the artistry of letterwriting. I haven’t employed that set of conventions and mode of observation so much as I should like in recent years. I really connected with the observations, voices, and niceties Shaffer drew together. It’s a saddening and wonderful book. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was a finely drawn impression of the intense relationship between Snow Flower and Lily; definitely recommended. Kelly Link’s collection Pretty Monsters may actually overpower you with the sheer force of her imagination.

Somehow, 28 books seems slightly shameful to me: I should be reading more! How dare I take as much as two days over a book on average?! This is very strange and silly: who on earth am I competing against? Surely it should be about enjoying myself, and I’m over a month ahead in my schedule of book reading for the year…!

As it’s the holidays – for the next few hours, at least; uni goes back tomorrow – I’ve been able to make lots of library trips. I have 25 library books out at present! However, this is going to end once I have to knuckle down with assessments. Then will come the time for resear- er, reading the books I have bought and been given. For instance, after I wrote my reading list for 2011, in which I noted that I had yet to read it, I received an email from Karen Healey offering to send me a copy of Guardian of the Dead. This was rather embarrassing but also marvellous because, well, Karen Healey read my blog post saying I hadn’t read her book yet. She was nice enough to send me a signed copy! I also won a murder mystery, The Celtic Dagger, by Jill Paterson, who also sent me a signed copy and a lovely note. Additionally, I’m getting a review copy of the forthcoming Sookie Stackhouse book! What a kind bunch of people there are in the world.

So, all in all, there is rather a lot to read.