A Glamorously Unglamorous Life- Julia Albain

10916761“A year of learning lessons you can only learn the hard way.”

Greetings, charming folks! And welcome to the latest set of ramblings poured from my brain directly to the comfort of your own home- super convenient! I have a couple of confessions to make about this post before we get started. First of all- get ready for betrayal, dear reader- this book wasn’t technically recommended to me for my birthday project. I know, I know, I’m a rotter. BUT it’s a very short book & I’ve wanted to read it for a while, so that’s my excuse; better to ask forgiveness than permission and all that. Secondly, (I know, I’m just heaping the misery on today), I actually finished reading this book well over a month ago, and I put off writing about it for a veritable age in the hope that I would have snapped out of the spell it had me under at least a little. But that didn’t happen, and I can’t very well avoid it any longer. So, apologies and grovelling out of the way, here is A Glamorously Unglamorous Life.

The best way to describe my experience reading this book is that it was simultaneously the best and worst thing I could have done for myself. It’s short, simple, and autobiographical, combining genuine journal entries with constructed reflections upon the year that author Julia Albain spent living and working in New York City, where she moved alone immediately after graduating from the University of Michigan. Julia is an actor, director and writer, most known for working with theatre group Team Starkid (those who’ve recently spoken to me for upwards of five minutes will be unsurprised to learn that this is what lead me to the book in the first place). The book is far from literary masterpiece- so if it’s flowery prose and flawless grammar you’re after, this isn’t the work for you. But I think the sharing of stories and experiences goes far deeper than this; my favourite thing about this book is the fact that it reads just like a good friend telling you their stories over coffee- a style that makes the account all the more accessible, personal, and- to me at least- inspiring.

The casual tone of the book allows ample room for the authors’ personality and attributes to genuinely blaze out from each page, and her incredible outlook on life- one of the things that makes her a personal hero of mine- are abundantly clear and available for absorption. Albain demonstrates a resilience of spirit that simultaneously inspires disbelief and courage- the words once recorded in her journal to bolster herself in times of struggle easily become words written for all of us. Every frustrated, scared, passionate and curious human being holding a year of her life in our hands- living adventure through her until the time comes to start our own.

Of course, as with anything, it is possible to take a more cynical view of the book. At times it reads more like a series of motivational poster quotes than an account of life, and sections are idealistic and romantic to the extreme, blessed as Albain is with the hindsight to recognise that even difficult times paved the path to happiness. That being said, Albain certainly doesn’t shy away from how (pardon the language) completely shitty life can get at times. The message through all the optimism is not intended to be that it’s always easy or that bad times won’t happen- but that it will be okay. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t need to be reminded of this every now and again. Besides, is a little romanticism really such a bad thing? As far as I’m concerned, taking a cynical view to the message of the book is a sincere and misguided waste of energy which would be much better spent working towards cultivating the frankly astounding outlook encased in these pages.

New York“I was born with a warrior’s heart. I am not one to shrink back. Though the adventures and challenges to come are many, the best is yet to come.”

I say that reading this book was simultaneously the best and worst thing I could have done for myself, and my reasons for both are essentially the same; every beat of my heart as I was reading bore out the same inescapable message- let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Suddenly my goal became abundantly clear to me- I want to pack my life into three bags and bugger off somewhere new, up sticks, pick a city and just give it a go. It’s not that I’ve never felt a desire for adventure before, far from it, but this was (is) so different- closer & more real, because this book allowed me the understanding that it would be difficult, and challenging, and messy. The revelation came in the fact that this didn’t make me want it any less. travel

“I think at the root of it all is the decision that happiness is worth being the one single pursuit in your life.”

I want to learn lessons you can only learn by living. It can’t always be ‘good’, but I want it anyway. I’m ready to try new places that might not work out, wander unfamiliar cities getting to know my new home, take long haul flights alone, find a way to fix my own damn kitchen sink because the landlord won’t answer the phone, to be moments away from quitting, but keep going anyway.

This book was a rallying cry directly to my soul. It ignited the voice in the back of my head saying ‘get up, get out, go, you can do it!‘ And one day soon, I absolutely intend to.

Wow, you guys! That ended up very intense- not many jokes up for grabs, but few things have ever had such a real impact on my life as this did! In fact, it played a very real part in my finally taking the necessary action to get a little closer to my own adventure- switching my degree course from Classics to Drama and English Literature. I’d been giving it a lot of thought/soul searching/panicking, but it was reading this book that finally lit a fire under me to make a move and do something really a bit scary- “fear means you’re alive.”

So once again, huge thanks for making it to the end of this particularly self-indulgent post, most beloved readers. Please do get in touch with me via paigeturner.stories@outlook.com with any thoughts, questions, or even additions to the book list!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Paige Turner.


Enduring Love- Ian McEwan

enduring love“I just wanted you to know, I understand what you’re feeling. I feel it too. I love you.”

First things first, radiant readers, you’re in for a pretty serious one this time- not much room for jokes. So. in order to ease the blow of some actual stuff, may I suggest that you take this time to have a quick dance around the room/Google some kittens/have quite a massive drink of booze, because that’s what I’ve done & I can assure you it helps.

I’ll give you a few moments for that.

Done? Excellent.

Heeeeere we go.

This past week I found myself in a difficult position- very aware that I needed to write the first substantial post for the blog,  but completely at a loss what I could say about this extraordinary work and the way it has made me feel. The dear, dear friend who recommended this book offered the explanation that she “doesn’t like your typical love story.” Well that, dear reader, it certainly is not.

The first thing to say, I think, is how deeply the book has stayed with me and occupied my thought in a very real way, which caused a serious case of over-thinking how on earth I was supposed to write any coherent configuration of sentences about it as a piece of literature. It does the work no justice to take too casual a tone, but by the same token it does not ask to be analysed or pulled apart; it is best experienced as a whole, as the feeling it evokes more than the precise words on the page. In the actual reading, the language is notable and impressive, but in the reflection it is far more a matter of feeling than sentence structure or extended metaphors.

We follow the story of research scientist Joe who, as a result of his involvement in a tragic accident, meets a young man named Jed Parry and is plunged into an unhealthy, obsessive and dangerous relationship to which all around him remain almost willfully oblivious.The book opens with one of the most harrowing sequences I have ever read; a terrible scene that plays out like a grim art house film in the imagination and establishes a sense of foreboding that I couldn’t escape for the rest of the story. The mathematical analogies our narrator uses in the opening chapter give the following events a sense of the inevitable, and McEwan’s manipulation of our feelings on this possibility is truly masterful.

From here onwards it feels, certainly to me, as though we begin a descent, free-falling through the experience that wears away at Joe’s psyche and his life.

Jed“It’s beautiful here and we’re still unhappy

An especially hard-to-stomach aspect of the book is the doubt I myself as a reader began to experience- just who is really losing their mind? There are moments throughout the story when a thought appears, almost without acknowledgement, in the back of one’s mind; is Joe imagining this? For me this only adds to the horror of the book, balancing the claustrophobic frustration that nobody will listen to Joe’s fears alongside the uncertainty that perhaps what we are really experiencing is the unraveling of one man’s already tightly-wound psyche. By midway through the book, we are presented with a narrator who is just as obsessed with his stalker as Parry is with him. Whether Joe is able to acknowledge it or not, the relationship is without doubt one of mutual give and take.

Further to this is the niggling discomfort and genuine concern at being able to sympathise with Parry. I’m sure that seems like a completely impossible thing, but McEwan writes the letters from Parry in such a way that suddenly his feelings are given a terrible clarity for us as readers; against our own will, we feel for him. The sheer obsession and deluded adoration this man feels is not something I ever thought I’d have any modicum of understanding for, yet suddenly in reading this book I was plunged into Parry’s world so artfully that my own perceptions were all but lost.

To delve so completely into obsession is breathless and frightening. To experience something- anything- in such an assured, convinced, all-encompassing way is something I have not had to deal with before and it took rather a lot of emotional energy to process the intensity of the book. McEwan exhibits an unnerving ability to make it feel as though I were reading a traditional love story; simultaneously entranced and horrified.

One day I’m certain I’ll revisit this book, but for now it has made impression enough.

And that’s all I have to say about that. A massive congratulations and THANK YOU if you made it to the end of this, I’ve both loved writing it and also had rather a hard time getting it finished. I recommend whole-heartedly that you read this bloomin’ wonderful book!

If you have any questions/comments/thoughts on the post, or recommendations to add to the list, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at paigeturner.stories@outlook.com

My next post will be coming MUCH sooner than I managed to churn this one out, so look out for that. In the mean time. Happy reading!

Paige Turner.

About Me

I’m 20 years old, currently studying for a degree in Classical Studies at the University of Manchester. As you can see, one of my highest priorities is finding stuff to do that is in no way related to actually working towards this. I think this is going to be my favourite form of procrastination yet.

I’ve loved reading and stories from a very young age, my father having worked in publishing for all of my young life, and still think that stories may very well make the world go round.

I feel everything far too deeply, even that which isn’t necessarily mine to feel, and I’m never sure if it’s the most wonderful or most terrible thing.

My other loves include cats (especially mine), animals in general, theatre (especially musical), performing, glitter, wine, beautiful places of all varieties, good food & better friends. I am blessed with access to all of these things on a regular basis, it makes for a really rather joyful existence.

Just as a matter of interest, one day I want a house with a tree in the back garden.

So, I suppose that’s me! Congratulations if you’ve made it to the end of this particular set of ramblings.

I can be reached on paigeturner.stories@outlook.com- please email here with questions, comments, thoughts & feelings about any post, or the blog as a whole!

Happy reading!

Paige Turner.


Hello there, beautiful, lovely, intelligent, attractive human!

First of all, a massive congratulations on making such a life-enriching choice as delving into this blog. Secondly, THANK YOU for taking the time to have a look, I’m super excited to have you here.

I’m really not sure where all this is going to end up, but it’s a project I’m incredibly excited to start & I hope you’ll be here for all of it! Keep an eye out for the first proper post, coming up very soon I hope!

Please send any extra book suggestions, questions or thoughts to:


Thank you again, delightful person, and happy reading!

Paige Turner.