Monday, 28 July 2014

Great summer reads

The holidays began a little while ago...for uni this was about 6 weeks ago or more, for private school, about a month and state schools/college broke up 2 weeks ago. So it's got to that stage: you have done your odd jobs, laid in the sun and eaten copious amounts of ice cream. And you don't want to admit it but you're now slightly bored.

But worry no more, because I have compiled the ultimate summer reading list to keep you entertained. I have tried to contain a mixture of books, old and new of all different genres so hopefully there will be something for everyone. Check them out...

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This has recently been released in the cinema, to very high acclaim and great reviews. But the book is obviously better. Saying that, the film is quite excellent and a very good representation of the book so you are safe doing both for a change. It's a bit of a tear jerker and really makes you think about life and what you value within it.

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
A really sensitively written novel containing experiences of mental health problems. It takes you a while to get into it but stick with it because it is really great and gives valuable insight into the innermost feelings of those suffering from a mental health disorder and how it began.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
A classic that you just have to read. It brings you back to the roaring 20s and displays the parties and dressing up to and restlessness that many young people can relate to today.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A love story with a twist. Told in absolutely beautiful detail in a really realistic way.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A chilling but gripping thriller...will keep the pages turning

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
I really like Sophie Kinsella but I do think this is the best of her novels by far. The main character makes a very unlikely friend who gets her into all kinds of hilarious scrapes. Mostly involving men in some way. And a ghost. And a naked painting.

One Day by David Nicholls
An interestingly written book and the romance is not's more about friendship and comedy rather than anything else. But when it does come, it's so heartwarming, you'd never guess the author was male

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini's novels are just beautiful in general...with stunning descriptions and epic storylines that he doesn't shy away from

Room by Emma Donaldson
Another quite intense thriller, that keeps you hooked all the way through. Very readable and she has a wonderful style when dealing with some very daunting topics.

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Suicide Note

Poetry Prompt 6 - the first line is also the last line.

I wish I could begin again.
If I could reset the clock
I would
become a better person
but it requires effort to
change yourself completely.
Sometimes I think you should
just laugh
and be done with it.
I want to give up
this ridiculous charade
of my life. Or live
someone else's instead.
I would prefer
an easy life too.
Everyone wants
something they don't have
and in this case it is
striving for a perfect life.
One day, hopefully
I will have it.
Peace -
it will come eventually
although when I have no idea.
I wish I could begin again.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Heart Breaker

So I have decided to get back on the poetry again after a little break. Here is my Poetry Prompt 5 - An Unlikely Thank You

Dear Mr Dick Head,
Do you remember what it was you said?
All those many months ago
back when you thought I didn't know
that you were in love with someone else?
And always put her above myself.
You really thought I didn't see
that you never really cared for me?
You met me on that final night
and rambled on about a load of shite,
saying how we just could not be
and you were desperate to be free.

So you could just wait for her in peace.

Well thank you, Dick - you're the best.
It's not like you've messed
me up or anything like that.
In actual fact,
I'm great, terrific, absolutely fine.
Let's meet up sometime.
And you can hear all about my perfect life
and how I will never be a wife
because I will never be silly enough
to trust again. Or worse - to fall in love.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

My Reading University Bucket List

I have spent longer than average at university, so, understandably, I have become rather attached. Therefore on entering my fourth year, I came up with a list of all the things I wanted to achieve/visit/do before my wild student days were over and I moved away. Check them out.

Buy a hoody
Bit of a boring one to start off with but necessary to cling on to those student days. I did in fact discover that I already have a University of Reading hoody which I bought via a society in second year. So rather than waste my money on another one I thought I would purchase another item of clothing. I decided against a t-shirt as I have so many old open day ones. Instead I went with a beany hat. Kind of cute I thought =]

Go into Cemetery Junction at night
Cemetery Junction is a creepy high walled cemetery at the bottom of my road. It is completely enclosed and surrounded on all sides by main roads leading out of Reading. And it is a slightly weird place at the best of times, let alone in the dark. 1 man point for me =]
I decided to go there on a dissertation break in April at about 8.15 so it wasn't quite dark yet but it was getting there. It was pretty cool, some of the graves were so so old and really ornate. But with lots of overhanging trees and darkness that came on really quickly, it became so creepy. Plus when we were leaving, we realised that it technically closed at 8pm so we could have easily been locked in. I could think of nothing that would be frighten me more!

Write for every issue of the student newspaper this year
I write for four sections of our university newspaper, Spark* - Film & TV, Arts & Books, Travel and Fashion and on top of that, I edit the Film & TV section. It slightly takes over my life and I am proud to say I managed to write a grand total of 17 articles this year (not including exclusively online ones), appearing in the 10 issues that were published across two terms.

Get with 5 guys in one night
A silly one to embrace my epic on-going single-ness...up until this point, I had only managed three but on Valentine's Day I managed the full was easy really, picking that particular night was cheating. Those desperate guys would get with a warthog.

Visit Sonning
A pretty little village about 10 minutes from where I live. Me and my housemate went to visit it, one afternoon after we had had a stressful day in the library. We accidentally went on a five mile walk along a river, and across a number of fields. Quite tiring but definitely nice to breathe some country air for a change.

Have a meal in every restaurant on the Riverside
The riverside at Reading is absolutely packed with bars and restaurants, so it was my aim to visit every single one before I left. And I have almost almost managed it. Out of the 23 restaurants/coffee shops, I only had 2 left to go - Giraffe and Brown's. And I have been in Giraffe to have cocktails, so it was just Brown's really. Which I did visit back in the second year when it was New Orleans so I kind of made it to them all. By the skin of my teeth.

Visit the Madjeski Stadium
I am not a particular fan of football which meant I didn't actually achieve this one...but I did go to Twickenham and that is definitely way cooler. So I think I win actually =]

Go to Royal Ascot
I went two years ago and had a fabulous time, but this year we stepped it up a notch and paid to go into the Grandstand. It was a really awesome day, very hot and I became so sunburnt. But fun nonetheless. We had a great view of the racing, saw the queen, had fish and chips and Pimms (how much more English could we have been) and ended the day having a singsong around the bandstand.

Explore every inch of campus
My job as a Student Ambassador helped with this a lot and I managed to enter most buildings/halls at least once throughout my time here. I did feel that by my fourth year, I knew this place really well. Parts of it are so lovely and I felt extremely glad that I was able to study here.

Have a starter, main course and pudding in three different restaurants in the same night
Quite a silly one but I have always always wanted to do this. And with the Riverside making it so easily accessible to move from one to the next, I thought it might be the best time to do it. Alas, nobody shared my restless aim so I haven't had a chance yet but I am still determined.

Attend a jazz night
I always liked the idea of jazz nights, and how laid back they are...I ended up going to one when I was in Madrid at New Year and it was fabulous, even though I couldn't understand what they were singing about. So although this wasn't actually achieved in Reading, I did still go to one, so I think it still counts.

Spend 24 hours in the library
There was a massive campaign to make the library 24 hours in the exam season so I thought I should take advantage of it at least once. Even though I hate the library and it drives me nuts. But I didn't make this one. My hatred was just too much. The most amount of time I managed was from about 8am until 9pm. I couldn't handle any longer, I was starting to go loopy. There are some students who live in there. And I mean actually live. They have sleeping bags under the desks and keep a toothbrush by their intense pile of books. I think that's taking academia a little too far. Get a life and have a beer.

Complete placement, dissertations x2, exam
Just about made it through all of these. It was tough though and I cried a lot throughout each one. I don't think I have cried so much ever. But I have done it and I am out the other side. Can not quite believe it.

Go on a date once a term
My friend told me that I am too flitty and I should try actually getting to know guys rather than just friendzoning them/getting with randomers in he instructed me in the spring term to try and go on a few dates while I still had the social side of university at my fingertips.

Have a picnic in the Harris Gardens
The Harris Gardens is a pretty little garden in the corner of campus, hidden away behind the science blocks. I love it there, it is literally one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Reading. I spent a lot of time there this summer, trying to take advantage of its gorgeousness while I still could. And I spent the morning of my 22nd birthday here, eating breakfast and reading. So that's this aim ticked off.

Sing at an open mic night
I am a keen singer and have been part of the Singer Songwriter society for a couple of years but my problem is I am unbearably shy. I have attended so many open mic nights supporting various musical friends, it seemed a bit ridiculous that I didn't try and perform myself at least once. But as it turns out, it turns out my shyness took over a little bit and I never plucked up courage to do it. I will have to practice a bit and actually achieve this one - I am determined.

Attend the Henley Regatta
Another pretty place that I wanted to visit. That's the good thing about Reading. Although it's not that pretty itself, it's surrounded by absolutely gorgeous places. I went to the regatta on the Sunday so got to see all the finals which was cool. And my god, are those men hot. Those arm muscles. It was a really nice day, sat chilling in the sun and drinking Pimms. I also felt like I learnt something because I attended with a friend who rowed in the Durham team and she explained lots of different aspects of the rowing that would have passed me by otherwise.

Visit the three museums on campus
I am not sure how many universities can actually say that they have a museum, let alone three so I thought it would be silly if I didn't visit them.

The Museum of Rural Life is right next to the campus which I studied on and holds all of the education degrees so we went there a lot. And I hate to say it, but it's very dull. However, it does have some rather cool archives which holds, among many other books, a first edition of Alice in Wonderland. Nothing to do with Rural Life, but pretty awesome for the literary nerd in me. The next one is the Cole Museum of Zoology (pronounced Zoo-oh-lijee as I had to explained to my friend, not zoo-lijgee as she thought, the plonker) There was a mammoth tusk which was pretty cool, a full skeleton of an elephant (which actually I expected to be bigger but maybe with the ears, they would have scared me more) and a real human skeleton too. Hopefully they are not murdering students to get that particular exhibit. The final museum was the Ure museum of Greek Archaeology and I didn't make it into that one, because on the occasions I attempted to, it was either filled with Classics Students or was shut. Sad times.

Get with a member of staff
A silly one that one of my friends dared me to do because in first year I had dated a lecturer. I  never actually achieved this one either but I think that's due to the fact that the member of staff would have probably been sacked if they had. I don't really know the rules on this one but I will let it slide.

Pick up a free condom at the union
On the front desk in our student's union is a tub of free condoms...which is kind and all that, but they do place the tub embarrassingly near the member of staff sitting at the desk. Hence why my friend dared me to do it :D Again I have no balls and did not manage to do this. Bit too self conscious.

Go to all four summer balls
Our summer balls are all night long and pretty awesome with funfair rides and star acts. I am very proud to say that I did make it to all of them and lasted until 6am at two of them (first and third year). Second year was a pathetic effort and I only stayed until about 3.30. And then this year I was feeling my age a lot so although I made it to the survivors photo, I couldn't quite hang on until 6, instead leaving at around 5.40.

Don't go insane
Unfortunately this one I didn't manage to achieve...I am definitely now totally nuts.

I made itttttt. Without having too much of a breakdown and with a passable grade - this time last year (and at multiple points during my fourth year) I didn't think this would ever happen. But it did so I went up on to that stage to shake our VC's hand. And I managed to do that without either falling down the steps, up the steps, on to the VC or tripping over my own feet. A feat that I am potentially more proud of than the degree itself. Happy days. And here endeth my four years in Higher Education.

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Graduation from University of Reading - July 11th 2014

Yesterday was a big day in Coster history as my graduation from Reading University signalled the end of my four years at uni and 18 years of education. How nuts is this?? I now have to actually find a job, and think about how to live a life that doesn't involve writing essays (although will definitely involve writing, fingers crossed). I won't know what to do with myself.

It was a truly beautiful day. I donned my robes, got a professional photo done, became very nervous about tripping up/down the steps, managed to shake the VC's hand without causing havoc, collected my certificate, had many photos with friends, had tea and cake and a lovely meal and finally ended the night by getting absolutely hammered (well, it's not like I will get many opportunities to do that any more).

I celebrated with the majority of the people who I care about most in the world and felt incredibly lucky to be supported by such a great group of individuals. So I thought I would share some of my favourite photos with you as for once in my life I was feeling vaguely proud of myself (believe me this doesn't happen often). Thank you so much to everyone who puts up with me on a regular basis. I say it time and again but I really would not have been able to achieve this degree without you all. And well done Class of 2014 - WE MADE IT.

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Today is an important and possibly one of the most life changing days of my 22 years. Considering that my graduation from Reading University is tomorrow afternoon, it has only just occurred to me that THIS IS IT. After this day I shall be a student no longer but I think 18 years in education, (including four in this wonderful institution in the south of England), is quite enough. That doesn't stop me from feeling slightly panicky though. After tomorrow I can not put the job hunt off any more, because real life has finally arrived.

As I sit here on the eve of the real beginning of my life, I have become rather reflective. There are many recent graduates, who, despite only graduating in the past few days, are already looking at their time as students through rose tinted spectacles. Many of them have put up Facebook statuses saying 'It was the best three years of my life' and 'thank you Reading for everything....I wish I could do it all over again.' WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Have you already forgotten all the stress? Do you seriously want to take those horrible 9:00am exams again? Do you really want to write 10,000 words (or in my case 18,000 words) of dissertations again? Do you actually want to sit through those three hour boring lectures again where you couldn't take in a word because you were concentrating more on not throwing up all over the table? And what about all those arguments, mistakes, death-by-alcohol, embarrassments, heartbreaks and you really want to go through all those again?

University is one of those times where you really begin to find out who you are and with that there are always going to be ups and downs. Life isn't perfect, nor is university. There are upsets and tears but also so much laughter and happiness. I would not change one bit of my university experience, even the bits where I was horrendously low as they all add up to make me the person I am today which I would not want to change for anyone or anything. And as much as I would never want to return to the beginning of uni to repeat the bad experiences, I don't think I would like to repeat the good experiences either. They were special back then and remain special to me now, but you can always have too much of a good thing. Repeating the experience, if you could achieve that in some way, would take away this special-ness and definitely not be as good the second time around.

It is so important to recognise university for what it is...a phase in your life which has now ended and it is time to move on from. Those who are determined to hold on to their student status are only impeding their own development, and, quite frankly, are not quite mature enough to grow up yet. University was an adventure, but life is too. So it's time to embark on that one instead.

I entirely disagree with my fellow graduates that university was the best time of my life, but tend to side with the far more literarily-proficient Dickens (10 points if you can name the novel) - 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of despair...' I think that just about sums it up.

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Friday, 4 July 2014


Poetry Challenge Day 4 - A haiku from your window


The sun has gone to
bed, smothered by night's blanket.
Will you rise again?

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