Hello, dear reader,
I’m Fiona Kat. If you have followed my other blogs, you might also know me as fikalo, fizuleika, fizzy, fionn, and/or Fika.
My ‘day job,’ depending on what time of day, week or year you ask me, is as an artist, an aspiring writer, a full-time stay-at-home-parent, and full-time cat person.
This blog was started in response to my 2017 “New Year’s Resolution.” Not that it’s a resolution, so much as a goal, or ambition, or self-directed challenge.
I want to read more books.
As an avid reader, that seems like a no-brainer; but, if I’m honest with myself, ever since I got caught up in the easy distractions and mindless page refreshing of social media, circa 2007, my reading habits have declined. Once upon a time, I read any books that I could get my hands on, and spent countless hours in the local library in my rural hometown. However, in more recent years and due to a variety of circumstances, I laid aside the books and picked up my smart phone instead.
I want 2017 to be a year in which I lay aside my addiction to the phone in order to feed and develop my creative, intellectual and artistic side. And part of that process, for me, entails feeding my imagination and my mind through the power and beauty of the written word.
While this blog exists as a secondary adjunct to my primary blog, I hope that it will become a forum in which I can record the results of my 2017 resolution – and beyond. I will use it in the meantime to record the books that I have read. In the future I will probably also include pictures of my art and maybe samples of my own writing.
My overarching, yet flexible, rule is that I have to complete the whole book, cover-to-cover, and then I will record it here.
In some cases I may write a short review, but I hasten to add the following notes:
1 – I only finish reading and reviewing books that I actually like. This is not a literary criticism site. Ultimately, it’s my personal record of my own reading habits and after some friends said they were interested in hearing my reading updates, I took the opportunity to make it a more audience-friendly format.
2 – I am not available to beta-read others’ books at this time. In the past I have had authors contact me on such things and while I have, in good faith, accepted their pre-publication texts for an honest review, the reality is that I am an extremely picky, finicky reader with a whole lot else happening in my life. Unfortunately I have not been able to fulfill these requests to beta-read others’ books. My apologies, but I am simply not able to do that at this point in time.
3 – After ~17 years of having my own websites, social media accounts and blogs, I rarely have comments enabled on my blogs. If they are enabled, it is usually temporary. I wrote a piece on my main blog back in July 2015 to explain this in more detail:
A few of you have communicated to me that you noticed I don’t have comments open on most of my posts. That’s right! After being a Geocities webmistress and then a Blogger since 2001 I have been visited by just about every kind of Internet troll I can imagine (and I refuse to imagine any worse).
I’ve received those horrendously long Bible bashing comments written in all capital letters that are copy/pasted onto every recent post. I’ve had angry Christian men from the opposite side of the planet comment about how my biological gender renders me a lesser being in God’s sight and therefore I ought not to write as if I am, like them, human (if they were being consistently logical they ought to address these concerns to my husband, rather than assuming that they could reason with me). I’ve had angry and lengthy Atheist comments about how, well, I’m not an Atheist (I am not unsympathetic to Atheism and Agnositicism and agree with many critical observations about the problems with organised religion, so please know I am not interested in being antagonistic towards my nonreligious friends and acquaintances). Please be clear that Christians, Atheists and Agnostics alike, and other worldview groups too, are welcome.
And honestly, I am tired of the nasty discussion threads – I imagine many of us Internet users are. What could be a beautiful and helpful tool for unifying humanity, dispersing knowledge and diversifying our understanding, too often becomes a series of ideological trenches where angry commenters pop out to shoot at each other because, well, we’re different. Fearful of The Other. My concern is that the Internet appears to have the effect of causing us to fall further into our fear-driven divisions. I don’t want to add to that negative culture. So while I welcome positive and constructive dialogue with my regular readers, I no longer have the time nor the interest to devote to curating and moderating the comments section so that it is a safe space for readers.
In addition, there are several freely available blogging websites, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to copy/paste lengthy comments to other people’s blogs, please consider starting your own blog! It’ll be far more satisfying and you’ll be able to say whatever you want and the people who read it will have done so voluntarily. (1)
I’ve been blogging – or website-ing (?!) – since 2001, when I had my first Geocities account. After a long hiatus, I eventually signed up for my first blogger account in 2006 as a way to share my art: frustrated with feeling like I’d been reduced to nothing but the labels of “housewife” and “mother,” and in the context of a church community that tended to assume people’s pre-born again lives were irrelevant, blogging became a powerful way to reclaim my own voice and find a creative purpose and context within the broader scope of the rest of my life.
In the decade since that first of many blogs, I’ve been raising my two kids, finished two university degrees, gone on a lengthy spiritual-religious journey I detail in other places, stayed happily married, moved house twice, and begun the hard work of establishing myself as an artist, and as an aspiring author. I have so far penned four NaNoWriMo first-draft manuscripts, participated in NaPoWriMo (though not as successfully as my NaNo involvement), entered a number of writing competitions, blogged irregularly but so far to mostly positive feedback, and pursued a number of different spiritual paths, hobbies, and interests.
A bit about me:
AGE – Somewhere in my 30s.
LOCATION – South-East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
HOMETOWN – is in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.
ETHNIC BACKGROUND – Anglo-Celt, Norse-Gael Australian. Which I add as a point of interest because I find history and cultures fascinating. People of all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds are welcome on my blogs.
RELIGION – I might write more on that here at a later stage. Let’s just say it’s been a tumultuous journey of varying self-applied labels. If you must label me, Catholic is most true. I was born, raised, educated, baptised, reconciled, received communion and confirmed as a Catholic and it remains as the religious and spiritual framework that best currently represents my spirituality (think St Francis, Thomas Merton, St Ignatius of Loyola and contemplative prayer as opposed to any kind of hardline fundamentalism). However, as my websites and blogs have charted over the years, my journey at one point took me into – and out of – Neopaganism (of the Norse-Celtic Solitary Hedge Witchcraft and Druidry branch), born again Pentecostal Christianity (the religious background of my husband), and a subsequent difficult journey out of that and to the point I am now. Religion will not be the core topic of this blog so don’t worry, if religion is irrelevant or even a stressful topic for the reader I do not intend to engage with it. However, some of the books I read and reference on this site will likely be religious texts. And I make no apologies (or apologetics) for why I believe what I believe – on this blog, at least. I spent my Pentecostal years aggressively tubthumping young earth creationist** apologetics and insisting that I had the answers… only to find out that the more I learned about life, reality and religion, the less I really knew. I am interested in Taizé, ancient Christian traditions, Christian environmentalism, egalitarianism, the intersection of faith and other fields of human inquiry, social justice from a Christ-centred perspective including a heart for the poor and marginalised, apocatastasis, recovery from cults and dysfunctional religions. My friends are from a diverse range of different Christian denominations, not to mention those from other religions and non-religious worldviews, and I enjoy friendly, thoughtful face-to-face discussion on those topics.
POLITICS – Much of my understanding of politics and political systems is derived from my prior university studies as a Sociology and Journalism student, a course in which I also took classes on History, Politics, Australian Indigenous studies, Educational Psychology and more. As a result, I am hesitant to label myself as deeply entrenched at any point on the political spectrum. I follow what I like to call a ‘pick and mix’ approach to the political sphere, and form my understanding on different social issues based on careful research. My views are flexible in the sense that I am willing to adjust my perspective to accommodate new understanding and knowledge if it stands up to reasoned scrutiny.
MUSIC – A fan of heavy metal (especially European folk metal, atmospheric black metal, and Australian heavy music) and classical music.
SPORTS – I enjoy watching Formula One and Aussie Rules football. I enjoy cycling in a non-competitive walking-up-the-hills but trying-to-be-fitter kind of way.
FAVOURITE ANIMALS – All of them… but currently I’m owned by a pair of cats.
DIET – I’ve been a committed vegetarian since 1995, and these days am more-or-less vegan and plant based. I was originally inspired to commit to vegetarianism when I had a weekend job on the family farm and found even ‘humane’ treatment of the farm animals to be problematic, and over the years as I learned how to make vegetarianism healthy – rather than merely substituting animal products with soy-based mock versions of the same thing – I found that I feel healthier and my allergies improved. My Sociology Honours research explored the intersections between agriculture, environmental issues – especially climate change – and animal welfare issues, and solidified my resolve to live a plant-based lifestyle as far as possible. The ecofeminist principle of contextual moral vegetarianism best describes my own philosophical approach.
EDUCATION – Bachelor of Arts Major: Sociology, Minor: Journalism; Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Environmental and Rural Sociology. Monash University, Australia. I’ve also completed a few Open Universities Australia science short courses.
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS – The Australian Sociological Association; and Golden Key International Honours Society.
PERSONALITY TYPE – ISTP (Myers Briggs); Introvert; 5 wing 6 (Enneagram).
FAVOURITE BOOKS – too many to count! Books to which I repeatedly return include Watership Down, CS Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, James Gurney’s Dinotopia, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Elyne Mitchell’s The Silver Brumby, the Star Wars Expanded Universe / Legends books, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
(1) Source (31 July 2015) – Streams & Desolations. Accessed 4 January 2017.
** YEC was an influential worldview in the nondenominational Pentecostal megachurch I attended at the time, though it was not that church’s ‘official’ perspective on the origins of life. I was, like most Catholics, educated in mainstream scientific understandings of the origins of the universe and life, and apart from being a committed proponent of YEC for several years, I am now back to where I started. To vastly oversimplify the issue, I tend to think (rightly or wrongly) that religion asks “Why?”, science asks “How?” and that they are both important parts of the way I understand life, the universe and everything.
Header image: Source – Perseid Meteor Shower over West Virginia, NASA (2016). Accessed 3 January 2017.
Site icon image: Source – ‘The rich color variations of Pluto,’ NASA (2015). Accessed 3 January 2017.
Date of original publication of this blog: Tuesday, 3 January 2017.
This page originally published: Tuesday, 3 January 2017.
This page most recently updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2017.