2019

Booked

I love reading.

I love the idea of getting lost in a world when the real world is becoming too much. Reading is something I do when I need to chill out. Something that is becoming increasingly necessary in this world, as it becomes more angry an confrontational.

That’s why books have come to mean so much to me, as there is no confrontation. Everything that could cause anguish is contained within the pages of the book. And if it stresses me out at all, I can close the book and do something else. Because if I am really invested in a book or character, I can find myself panicking if the storyline turns suddenly. And I am aware that seems really strange.

My issue these days, seems to be on focus. There are times where I can get right into a novel, but other times my mind can’t focus. And it is really hard. Something that I’ve used to help me relax, might not help me anymore. I have discussed this quite a bit on here, but it is so annoying.

I am currently reading Limmy’s (Scottish comedian) autobiography, listening to a book on the Korean War and reading a thriller on my Kindle. I have to be able to jump back and forth so that I can take in a book whatever my mood is. The problem is that I often end up reading the same stuff over and over again. It’s not really a problem, but I feel like it is. I love the feeling of getting into a new book for the first time, where you can’t put it down. But, due to the problem with focusing, it’s hard to get into something new.

2018, ramblings

Head In Sand

Recently I haven’t been sharing at all. Which is not like me, but it’s hard when you are dealing with something that you’d rather not be dealing with.

Unfortunately, life is not that kind. I have been sick, had a major crash with my mental health, had course work due in and the busiest time of the year for the ol’ day job. And it all kind of left me functioning, but that was it. I didn’t want to talk about it, still don’t, because I didn’t want to think about how much stuff was happening all at once. It’s kind of calmed down a little, my coursework is done and Christmas is a week a way, which means no overtime. And it’s allowing me a little time to reflect on why I burrowed myself away from the internet.

For years the internet was where I could let my feelings go, where I could write about stuff that no one cared about. It was very therapeutic and it was completely disconnected from my real life. However, every day there seems to be more merging of both my private life and the one I talk about on line. People who I know in real life, are able to access what I am writing.

Now, this doesn’t seem like a huge problem for some, as they see things being made public, and surely it doesn’t matter who reads it. But… that’s not really how it goes. In my life, I try to put a smile on as I soldier on through whatever the day throws at me. Inside, I may be falling apart, but I don’t want people to see it. I always feel like my mental health issues makes me a burden on others, so I don’t want them to know. That way people don’t feel pressured into being nice, they are being nice because they want to, not because I’m not right in the head. And when these people I share my daily life with can read what I really feel, I feel like I have let them down. I mean, surely I should be able to talk to folk, right?

So, sometimes it is easier to bury my head in the sand. Pretend things are okay, when they aren’t. It’s not perfect. But, it can get me through times where I don’t have the strength to deal with questions about things that I don’t know how to put into words. That’s what writing helps me do, sometimes, put what’s in my head into words that (kind of) make sense.

2017, books

Happy Book Lovers Day ❤️

I rarely pay attention to these 'blah blah day' things, but when it is relation to books, I felt I'd better celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than with a tag. The tag is borrowed from the lovely Kayleigh, and you should certainly check out her book blog.

1. What was the last book you read?
I finally completed Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. Was it a good one?
Yes. It is quite absorbing and took a lot to get through. Though the story is interesting, and not really what I would normally read.

3. What made it good?
Most of the books I look at, are either modern day or fantasy. This book had more of a period setting, and it has actually made me want to read more like this.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?
Yes, though if you have a short attention span, like me, it may take a while to get through. It is well worth it.

5. How often do you read?
Sometimes I get a little bit of information overload, and I can focus on anything, including reading. Which blows. But I counter that with the days where I can read books in one go.

6. Do you like to read?
Yes. It has been a relaxing thing for me to do for most of my life.

7. What was the last bad book you read?
About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk.

8. What made you dislike it?
The characterisation felt so contrived and fake. I couldn't feel anything for any of the characters. It made me think of reality TV and I hate reality TV.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?
I think that's the dream, isn't it. To just write anything that touches someone. It's kind of magical.

10. Has any book ever influenced you greatly?
Probably The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It was a book that helped settle my mind, when I struggled most with my mental health. It's a great book.

11. Do you read fan fiction?
Yes. Started with boy bands, progressed into anime… a true captain will go down their ship. 😂

12. Do you write fan fiction?
I did, a long time ago.

13. What's your favorite book?
Out by Natsuo Kirino

14. What's your least favorite book?
The Twilight saga… in general. I bought the whole lot, read the first one, and donated the lot to my local library. I maybe would have liked it when I was younger, but I was in my 20s and it was strange.

15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?
Whilst I like having books anywhere I am, like on my phone, nothing beats a book. I love the whole process of reading a physical book. And, second hand books are great, because you can think about any differences the last reader had about the imaginary world unfolding in front of you. It's why I rent a lot at the library.

16. When did you learn to read?
Probably early Primary School, with Link-Up books and Puddle Lane.

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?
I really loved To Kill A Mockingbird at school, to the point I bought it as an adult.

18. What is your favorite book series?
Harry Potter by JK Rowling, The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dan and The Millenium saga by Steig Larrson.

19. Who is your favorite author?
Only one? Between Chuck Palahnuik, John Grisham and Paulo Coelho.

20. What is your favorite genre?
Depends on my mood, but I like drama orientated books, but will try to read anything.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?
Sasuke Uchiha, because I made it this far without mentioning NARUTO. I like this character, because when I was younger and starting to have mental health issues, i felt I understood Sasuke's take on the world. Why he became so focused on one thing. He was hurting, and I empathised with that.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?
A good book should always paint a world and take you there.

23. Which book do you wish had a sequel?
I don't know. I tend to find things go a bit off kilter in a sequel, so I prefer stand alone books.

24. Which book do you wish DIDN'T have a sequel?
50 Shades… I tried, I did. It is horrible in every way, and it shouldn't have a first book, never mind sequels and movies.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?
It depends, but because I have an awful attention span, I normally flit between one or two books at a time. So longer than it would be if I just read one.

26. Do you like when books become movies?
Most of the time I have imagined something completely different, so I am left disappoint. The Harry Potter books were okay, and John Green adaptations tend to be pretty spot on.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?
Not really the point, but my interpretation of Harry Potter changed after the movies started coming out. And that disappoints me. I started reading Harry Potter back in the late 90s, before any movies. The world was good, but I thought differently of the characters.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?
I think Lord of The Rings did a good job, considering all the the walking.

29. Do you read newspapers?
Sometimes, more editorials rather than tabloid-y stuff.

30. Do you read magazines?
Mostly anime or food related. Sometimes music. I used to buy loads of magazines, I've cut down a lot.

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?
Magazines, because rather than an overview, you can get what you are actually interested in.

32. Do you read while in bed?
Yes. Sometimes just before bed, and in the morning when I'm waking up.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?
Sometimes. Usually end up playing a game on my phone.

34. Do you read while in the car?
Not really. I did when I had to get the bus, now I have my own car. I read the road… if that counts.

35. Do you read while in the bath?
I drop things in the bath. So not really.

36. Are you a fast reader?
If I can get into the book.

37. Are you a slow reader?
Probably. It's to with my attention span, again.

38. Where is your favorite place to read?
Anywhere, really. But I love sitting in the garden on a sunny day.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?
Normally I'll be able to focus for a while. After about 20 minutes my brain starts ticking on to something else. Unless the book is super good.

40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?
I like music. So no.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?
Both my Mum and Dad love books, and still read a lot.

42. What book is next on your list to read?
I have a selection. Amy Poehler's Yes Please probably, because I need a laugh these days.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?
Primary 3/4… I'd be about 7ish… I am guessing.

44. Who is your favorite children's book author?
Colin Dan

45. Which author would you most want to interview?
I don't really know. Maybe John Green or Paulo Coelho.

46. Which author do you think you'd be friends with?
Anyone. I think being friends with someone who is good at writing, would be so great. I'd just ogle them, no matter who it was.

47. What book have you reread the most?
Probably Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien. It just pulls me in, so hard. I could get lost for days.

48. Which books do you consider "classics"?
Books like Emma… books that have been published for possibly hundreds of years.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dan. It's animals traveling from their woodland home, which is being bulldozed to build houses. Lots of animals travel together to find sanctuary in White Deer Park. It has a lot of lessons about how the human world hurts the animals living around us. And although I read it when I was at Primary School, it wasn't taught.

50. Which books should be banned from all schools?
Books breed ideas… no book should be banned. Allow for free critique, but don't ban.

2017, advice, books

The Journey to White Deer Park

I am a bit of a bookworm. But in periods where I become a bit ‘stuck’, it can include finding it difficult to do hobbies, as well as create things. That means, i find it hard to relax to music and I just can’t focus on a book to read. Now, these can be issues, as both music and books are ways I like to relax. So sometimes, i feel like I just can’t unwind, and it is so frustrating.

So I made a choice to try and read 50
books this year. Its a big number, as I really struggled last year reading that same target, in fact I think I ready 11 books. 11 books in 12 months is really bad, as I used to read ALL THE TIME. So, in keeping of 2017’s plan I thought I’d try and red a book from my childhood to get me started.

The Animals of Farthing Wood.

It was a good idea. Because although the story was a lot mor simplified than I remember, was still super entertaining. And it made me think. If I want to do things, and am finding it hard, then maybe do baby steps. Working a really small bit towards your goal is better than working towards nothing at all.

When I was young Farthing Wood was a favourite. I read it so much, and became convinced I was going to get a pet fox. As a fox was one of the main characters. I loved animals, and the idea of different animals banding together to travel to a safer place, after the pond in their home of Farthing Wood is filled in by humans. People were building on their homes, and the animals leave whilst they still have the chance. But where do they go? To an animal reserve called White Dear Park, where they could all be safe. So the animals, a badger, fox, snake, weasel, mole, owl, rabbits, mice, voles and more, make a pact to live together in unity, until they reached their new home.

I read the book when the cartoon, based on the book, was aired on Children’s BBC, when I was about 10 or 11. The book disappoint, in fact, when I re-read it last week, it still kept me entertained. Okay, the way the animals all talked to each other was just like they were people, did annoy me. But it was still a book I could get right into.

So maybe, if you are struggling, try to do something you loved as a kid. It might help you re-discover why you love what you do, and give you the push to carry on.

Uncategorized

Always Learning

There is a problem with education in this country. It has the habit of ruining things which a lot of pupils cam be passionate about. I know that when I was younger, I lost my love of reading, after being forced to write laborious essays and questions on books read during class. I think it was the idea of constantly having my thoughts on novels that I loved critiqued, really sucked any joy out of the reading process for me. 

Over time, my love for reading anything and everything came back to me. I found that I loved reading different types of writing, from formal articles on science to trashy magazines. I love the variety that can be created by the written word. 

As I have gotten older, I have discovered that I do love to learn new things. It was just the formal setup of school, that didn’t agree with me. The biggest problem for me, was, as mentioned above, the constant testing. The constant nagging that you weren’t good enough, just ruined that period of my life. I was beginning to struggle with my mental health, and my grades started to suffer when I couldn’t actually use the things I loved to relax, because I was getting assessed on them 

Now my mental health is a lot better these days, I am trying to make the best of things and try to learn more. I have found a service called Future Learn, which provides free courses online. The courses run from a few weeks, to a couple of months, and are run with the help of many universities from all over the world. The course that I have signed up for, is Community Journalism, which is a 5 week course run by Cardiff University. The course has a variety of steps for every participant to complete every week, with a final test and the option to get a certificate upon completion. The best thing about Future Learn is that there is a wide variety of topics, something for everybody. You can also communicate with people also participating in the course, which means I have the ability to talk to people all over the world. It’s great. 

So, if you are interested in a topic that you would like to study into further, but you maybe don’t have the money to enroll in a course, don’t have the time to study full-time or just want to learn a bit more about something. I recommend that everyone pops onto Future Learn and has a look around and see if there is anything you fancy. Because education is about enlightenment, not examinations.

Uncategorized

How I relax

I am a total stress-head about a lot of what happens every day. I can completely panic unnecessarily over nothing. I try to find one way to relax every d ay. Here is a few of my favourite things that helps me relax a little.

1) Listening to a random album whilst I travel on the bus home. Staring out the window and listening to some cheesy music really helps me relax. Any stress that I have felt over the day just melts away, and my mood is totally uplifted.

2) A hot bubble bath is also something that has become a regular occurrence for me. Because I work on my feet, and can easily walk over 5 miles every day. It is something that is good for my health, but can sometimes hurt my feet and legs. I get tendonitis, have done since I was a teenager, and that means that it doesn’t take much for my body to start hurting and swelling up. A bath is good, because it soothes my muscles, and makes it a lot easier for sleeping. If I don’t have a bath when in pain, I can’t sleep at night, which just leads to other issues.

3) I never used to watch much TV, as it bores me. If I start to watch a series, I always forget a part, and then get lost. So I don’t watch a lot when I am on my own. However, after a long day at work, I have grown to like sitting with other members of my family watching random TV. I think it is the companionship that relaxes me, the fact that I am not having to be on my own.

4) If I wake up in a bad mood, which happens more than I’d like to admit, a walk in the fresh air can make me feel better. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, just a nip round the block can be enough to get the blood pumping and motivate me for the day. I also love walking down to the sea, which is right next to the town where I live. I like sitting looking into the water, and looking across the Forth towards Edinburgh. I find the sound and smell of the sea very relaxing.

5)If it is sunny there is nothing more relaxing that reading a book in the garden. It is one of the things I love most about summer, it being warm enough to sit outside. It doesn’t have to be my garden, I’ll walk down the local park, or even just find a bench to read on. It helps block out everyone around me, and chills me out, especially if it is a good book.

In the world we live in, there is pressure everywhere, so it is important to find ways to escape from those pressures. But different people find different things relaxing. So, what do you do when you need to chill out?

Uncategorized

Having Fun Isn’t Hard, When You Have A Library Card

Nothing beats reading a new book, particularly when the sun is out and you have a cool drink in your hand. That is what I have been doing today and it is my kind of heaven. A playlist of favourite songs in the background as my bare feet play with the grass in the garden. It’s relaxing and is always when I read the most. 

The thing is, you can’t simply purchase every book that sparks your interest. I, for one, don’t have the financial standings to get EVERY book I want. Which is depressing. I have started avoiding book shops unless I have £30 or so to spend, because I have no restraint. Seriously, it’s like I have no control. But to quench my thirst for new reads, I head to the library. 

I have grown up using my local library, from researching local history for school projects, to using the free internet when I didn’t have it at home. I frequently rent out books, where I find I am more varied in my selections. There’s no worry if you don’t like a story, because you haven’t paid your hard earned cash on it. It has made me a bit more adventurous, as my library tries to stock Scottish authors, something that wouldn’t stick out so much in Waterstones or the supermarket. 

Every town around here has a library, which has become important parts of local life. Where people who don’t have computers can access the Internet and connect with relatives or find jobs. There are story time groups and reading challenges for kids. It really is my favourite place. And it really opens up the world for everyone, and it costs nothing. And, let’s be honest, how much stuff is free these days? If you are a bookworm, like me, I recommend checking out your local library and select a random book.

You might be surprised.