Tag: reading

7 books for 7 pounds? Yes please!

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Not for me a couple of pages before bed and taking weeks to finish a book. If I start a book I’m committed to it and I allow it to take over. I’m immersed in the story and the characters (assuming said book is well written) and I just NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Many a time on holiday we’ve been later than planned for lunch or dinner because I’m reading “just one more chapter” which we all know is nothing like one chapter and probably more like four.

When I was a kid we used to go to the local public library where you could only take out six books at a time. I used to pore over the shelves, thinking how best to use my meagre allocation and, by the time we got home, I was chomping at the bit to get started. It wasn’t unusual for me to read a book in one sitting, and I’d usually have got through all of them way before it was time to go back the following week.

As an adult I read less, due to time constraints and life getting in the way, but when I do read I still do so in the same way. Nose down, devouring the pages and feeling thoroughly engaged. If we’re on a relaxing holiday I like nothing more than spending the day at the beach or by the pool with a book for company. If we’re going on a holiday where there is little relaxing time because it’s all about sightseeing, I often choose not to take a book, even for the journey, because I know it will consume my thoughts and eat into my time when I should be out looking at what the world has to offer!

When e-readers became de rigeur, I was slightly appalled (I’d hate books to become extinct) but I could see their appeal – so many books in one lightweight easy to carry place; perfect for holidays where luggage allowance is needed for shoes! And so I bought one (a Nook, now extinct as a company) and I loaded it with all manner of tomes, and I read The Great Gatsby on it the first day I got it. Ebooks were cheap and easy to download and the reader had a really long battery life but I didn’t love it. I missed the smell, and the page turning, and seeing how much book you have left. I missed physical books.

There’s always at least one book on my Christmas list, which I may or may not get round to reading immediately! I always have a pile of physical books which I haven’t yet read, collected from one source or another. But I never buy books from new myself. Being the greedy reader that I am, it’s a really expensive way of reading, when there are much more economical options.

All hail charity shops.

Charity shops are a veritable feast of books – paperback, hardback, fiction, autobiography; they have everything you can imagine. Ranging from tatty and dog-eared (well loved, as I prefer to think of them) through to like new condition, it’s a great way to bring purpose to something that’s otherwise bound for the scrap heap AND support a good cause.

I know there are purists who argue that the author is missing out because they’re not getting the royalties from a new sale. In my case that’s not true at all. I wouldn’t buy the book brand new, so they’re not losing a sale. They’re gaining an audience, and an appreciator, and potentially a recommender who will talk about their works to other people, in real life or on social media.

My most recent find is our local Acorns Childrens Hospice charity shop. I say “find”, it’s in the village where I have lived for 12 years. I’m not usually out in the village having a mooch during shop opening hours though, so I rarely go in there. 2 weeks ago I popped in and came out with a couple of books (then another 4 from Oxfam).

More charity shop books

I started off by reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I really enjoyed. It was a very different protagonist to the usual type, and I did go through a stage a few chapters in where I didn’t like Eleanor very much and so I started to struggle with the book, but I’m glad I persevered.

Last week I went back to the charity shop and came out with 7 books! Charity shop prices for second hand books often depend on size or condition, but our local Acorns has a £1 per book policy across all paperbacks.

Charity shop books

One of these is completely unread with not a mark on it, and I’d say all of the others have been read once and are in immaculate condition. Total value of £55.93, all for £7!

The beauty of reading this way is that you can afford to step out of your comfort zone and try a genre or author you wouldn’t usually go for, because if you don’t like it you haven’t wasted a lot of money (well technically you haven’t wasted any money, as it’s gone to a good charitable cause). Also, once you’ve finished, you can donate them back to the charity shop of your choice, thus continuing their fundraising capability.

Are you an avid reader? Do you buy pre-loved books? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Wise words from Stephen Hawking

I’ll be honest, I don’t know an awful lot about Stephen Hawking. I know that he was an incredibly intelligent man with a capacity for knowledge, analysis, understanding and comprehending the world and the universe that most people will never come close to. I know that he never allowed himself to be defined by his disability, and overcame physical limitations to be able to share his incredible brain power.

But, in the wake of his recent death, these are the things about Stephen Hawking that resonated and will stay with me.

Stephen Hawking quote

This. Always this. Never stop learning, questioning, reading and wanting to know more.

Stephen Hawking assisted dying

And this.

If one of the most intelligent men of our time can understand the need for assisted dying, and the need for the taboo and secrecy behind it to stop, then why can’t our government?

I would suggest that they adhere to the first quote and read more about the process, the people involved, public opinion, and the heartache of individuals and families denied the right to choose death instead of prolonged terminal suffering.

Read more about why I support UK charity Dignity in Dying and a change in the assisted dying law here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

5 simple pleasures

A more cheerful post, following yesterday’s gloom and doom fest!

It’s very easy to get caught up in the need to own things, do things, go places, eat out, see stuff and do stuff. I’m terrible for it. But I’m currently feeling the need to strip it all back and do simple (and cheap!) things that will make me happy.

Simple pleasures

Here’s what I have in mind:

Reading
I got through a couple of books on holiday and really enjoyed them. I want to devote more time to reading again. Curling up on the sofa for a couple of hours and burying my head in a book.

Clearing out old clothes, make up and nail varnishes
This probably won’t make me happy at the time, as I find tidying so dull! But I’ve probably been having some sort of clear out constantly now for about, ooh, 5 years! I need to finally nail it, get rid of all the crap and get my wardrobe/floordrobe in order. Plus I have so much out of date makeup. I was looking for a nail polish last night and found one in my box that I know has to be around 8 years old. Urgh. It’s taking up valuable space so I need to declutter and downsize.

Clearing out my car
I’ve always been one for keeping my car relatively tidy, but in the last couple of months it seems to have descended into a junk skip, with empty crisp packets, water bottles and even wallpaper samples just discarded on the backseat. The husband got in at the weekend and called me out on being a tramp! So this is something I can easily tick off the list and feel good about.

Going out for a walk
There are lots of nice parks and streets where I live, with woodland paths to follow and fancy houses to fantasise over. Just getting out and about, looking at the spring flowers and breathing in the fresh air is good for the soul, and I don’t do enough of it.

Watching films
I always say I haven’t got time to watch a film, or I’m not interested, but invariably I enjoy it. Last night we watched Practical Magic, which was on TV. I’d never have chosen to watch it but I really enjoyed it. Neither me or the husband have seen any of the Harry Potter films, so maybe that could be a plan.

What simple pleasures do you indulge in when you need to kick back and take it easy?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

My weekend in pictures

I’ve had a stunning weekend of doing very little. Weekends like that are few and far between – we seem to have so much on this year. We were supposed to be out for a birthday on Saturday night but we were both feeling pretty burnt out from work and family stuff and just life so we made the decision to stay home for some much needed R&R. It was a good decision.

Here’s a pictorial round up!

Baked lamb with potatoes and stilton – I’ll post up a recipe for this, it’s so so good.

Baked lamb with stilton and potatoes

Breakfast on the balcony

Breakfast on the balcony

Enjoying the view

Balcony view

Reading chick lit in the sunshine

Reading on the balcony

Still on the balcony, even in the dark, just add hoodie and burner!

Balcony by night

Popping to the local shops, wearing straw and stripes

Me in straw hat and stripes

Owl spotting – check out the Big Hoot (most of the owls are in the city centre and I haven’t had chance to get there yet but there are the odd few dotted around on the outskirts, these are in Kings Heath).

The Big Hoot Owl and the Pussycat

The Big Hoot Owl of Athena

The Big Hoot owl selfie The Big Hoot Athena owl selfie

Sunday papers (yes I read the tabloids, no I’m not sorry – it’s all about trash and escapism at the weekend!)

Sunday papers

Pruning my bushes (fnar!) – a bit of a tidy up of my balcony pots which I’ve shamefully neglected somewhat this year

Watering can and gardening tools

Pink petunias

Purple balcony flowers

Sunday roast – one of my favourite meals to cook

Sunday roast

Strawberries and cream!

Strawberries and cream