Thursday Thoughts: The Tasting Notes Live

So, on the 2nd October I did something that I never, ever thought I would do – I attended a bookish event and I did not know anybody there. Well, other than from the little squares of book club or bookstagram. And, it was one of the best bookish days ever.

The brilliant Book Taster (Jenna) organised the most fantastic day at the beautiful Priory Theatre in Kenilworth. On arrival, we each received a perfectly bookish goodie bag (and I was so excited as I could fangirl over my ‘Evie’ badge – if you know, you know).

There were five fantastic authors speaking about their books (which, of course means that I have so many more books on my wishlist):

Matson Taylor

Marianne Cronin

Lucy Cuthrew

Katy Collins

Emma Cooper

Each was so entertaining to listen to, and engaged with the audience, even meeting the fans and signing books.

Jenna was a perfect host of the event. We had fun and games from the word go. There was also a fantastic bookish raffle with great prizes – from fantastic small businesses and great publishers. There was bookish merchandise and coffee, tea and treats to keep all our strength up.

It was real chance to feel part of a perfect bookish community. Spending a whole day with the bestest book buddies, I would love to do it all again. So, thank you Jenna, ‘The Book Taster’, for creating such a special event.

Thursday Thoughts: Theatre is Back!

The most wonderful thing is the return of theatre. And August has been my lucky month – as I have been able to return to both Stratford and London to enjoy all things theatre – and it has made me so incredibly happy.

In Stratford, it was the chance to see ‘The Comedy of Errors’ at the RSC’s outdoor theatre. It was an absolute joy, and the perfect way to be welcomed back to The Royal Shakespeare Company. Played completely for its joyful, slapstick comedy, the company appeared to be having the time of their lives (come rain or shine), and you cannot feel anything other than sheer happiness being in the audience. This is also a fantastic play if you are looking to dip your toe into the Shakespeare experience.

The West End was a chance to see ‘Hairspray’ – selected as I hoped I would see Michael Ball but, unfortunately he was indisposed. However, this did not take away from all the musical magic of ‘Hairspray’. The moment the first note was heard in the theatre, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. Another outstanding performance from the whole company. In fact, so brilliant that there was cheering and clapping throughout – and even a standing ovation after ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’. ‘Hairspray’ has so many important messages, that are still so important today, that it is just a timeless show – and if you can see it, I would really recommend it.

So, the theatres being back has just been the most wonderful emotional rollercoaster. Let us all hope that the show goes on because, oh my goodness, I have missed it.

Thursday Thoughts: Graphic Novels

‘Heartstopper: Volume 4’ was recently published and, of course, I had to purchase it immediately. And then of course, I read past my bedtime because I can never leave Nick and Charlie part-way through a story. I absolutely loved the book, as I knew I would.

So, this has made me think about graphic novels. They were something that I had not really considered until the Heartstopper universe because I always thought they were only fantasy and sci-fi books. However, I have slowly started to realise that this is not entirely true. In fact, there is a whole world of wonderful graphic novels out there that cover all sorts of fabulous genres.

Now, I do have to admit that I have only really read the Heartstopper volumes (and my other love, Shakespeare manga, which I know is another genre again), but I have seen so many brilliant books being shared on bookstagram. That means the wishlist has grown.

I guess what I am trying to say is that books and genres should not be judged by their covers and that books full of illustrations are just as wonderful as books full of words, even when you are an adult.

Thursday Thoughts – My TV Detectives Challenge

I am a huge fan of TV detectives – Morse, Poirot and Dalziel and Pascoe, to name but a few, are programmes I can watch over and over again. Yet I have realised, after a read of a Dalgleish novel, that I have not necessarily read the books where those figures started.

So, I have made a decision (which will add to my tbr pile, no doubt) that I am going to try to read about thse detectives in the books where they began in my own ‘ TV Detective Challenge’. I will not be giving myself any kind of time limit or pressure to do this; I will just be giving myself the opportunity to discover some new authors and some new books. I am also hoping that I will be able to find some of these books in the local charity bookshop (I walked past the other day and there was a boxset of detective novels).

So, let us see if I can correct something that jars for a bookworm and find these detectives on the pages where they belong, and not just on TV.

Thursday Thoughts: For the Love of Bookmarks

How many bookmarks is too many bookmarks? Obviously, asking for a friend…haha!

Bookmarks bring me almost as much joy as books – a bold statement, I know, but I have collected bookmarks for almost as long as I can remember.

I have really vivid memories of a Paddington Bear bookmark that I bought at a school book fair, and it soon becoming a treasured possession. Whenever I rediscover that bookmark, it brings back memories.

Then, bookmarks – especially leather ones – became the souvenir of choice on family days out (along with badges), as my mum always seemed to consider a bookmark a useful memento. It must have been because, even then, I was always reading and always had a book with me.

Yet, as I have got older, my love of bookmarks has continued. And there are so many wonderful small businesses out there creating such beautiful and happy bookmarks that just add to the joy of reading. Of course, some bookmarks are better for hardbacks and some are better for paperbacks – but they all keep your page safe for when you are ready to return to your book. Which is, of course, the most important point of all.

So, I feel the outcome of this random post is that bookmarks are just as valid a collection for bookworms as the books themselves.

Thursday Thoughts: Why I blog about books

Yesterday, my little book blog was four years old. I should really have posted yesterday, but I got a little caught up in the Inauguration.

So, why did I start my book blog? That is a very simple answer: I absolutely love books. Ever since I was a child, collecting books was one of my favourite hobbies. I just loved reading and having bookshelves full of pretty books. One of my favourite places to visit was pretty much any bookshop – especially if I was lucky enough to have a book token to spend, too.

And, as I have got older, not a lot – well, let’s be honest – absolutely nothing has changed. I love books, and I simply want to share my love of books with others. I don’t claim to be an expert blogger, or a particularly good book reviewer. However, if I can share a book that others might be inspired to read, then that is a win.

I do also make a decision to only share books I have enjoyed, and that is because if I do not enjoy a book, I probably ‘do not finish’ it.

If you have something that you are passionate about, why not share your thoughts with others? You never know – you may inspire someone to try something new.

Thursday Thoughts: Reading Goals for 2021

I have not always been one for reading goals. I have set myself targets of how many books I may like read, but it has never been my sole purpose of focus as I read. Just a chance for me to keep a bit of a record and see how I do.

However, this coming year, I have decided that I will set a target but also take part in The Unread Shelf Project: and exciting little project that aims to support all of us who love books to shift some of those unread books which may have been on our shelves for some time. There is a prompt each month to help select the books you can clear from your shelves (and some bonus prompts if you would like to shift a few more). I have made some selections of books I would like to try to clear from the shelves, and I am keen to see what unread treasures I find.

Alongside this, I also hope that I read some more titles from my ‘100 Books Bucket List’ poster. I am hoping to have five additional books crossed off from that by the end of 2021.

But, most importantly, my reading goal for 2021 is to enjoy the time I have to read. There is no guilt if a book is not for you – the time spent reading should be time that is enjoyed.

Have you got any goals for 2021?

Thursday Thoughts: Retelling of Old Tales

I have recently jumped on the bandwagon of becoming a little bit obsessed with the retelling of Greek myths.

Thanks to a buddy read during lockdown 1.0, I picked up ‘The Song of Achilles‘ by Madeline Miller and I absolutely loved it. I found the whole world a fascinating place, even if some of the attitudes were a little questionable. However, at the same time there were some really liberal ideas too. A great story and a great book discuss.

Next, I moved on to ‘Circe‘ also by Madeline Miller. What a strong powerful female lead we were presented with in this book. We also met some famous Greek mythological characters characters. This is a tale I found a little slower but I still became absorbed in the world and found myself wanting to find out more about the story, characters, ideas and beliefs.

And now we reach my latest read, ‘The Silence of the Girls’ by Pat Barker. This had been on my bookshelf for ages (just like the others – oops) but a good bookstagram decided it was time to read it, and that was exactly what we did.

This focuses on the story of Achilles and, although that is a similar focus as Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’, it is still an excellent read. This is told from a completely different viewpoint, as this is about the girls who became the ‘prizes’ of the war. They watch Achilles’ story unfold and the world around them change. And I was obsessed, finding it a real page-turner. These women are so strong – however, what really added to my enjoyment was the fact that I could continue to develop my interest in these old tales, but also by the end of this book I had a different opinion of Achilles.

It’s a well-crafted telling of a famous story, which gives a voice to the women and allows them to tell her-story.

On my bookshelves are some more of these retellings, and I will definitely be making sure that they are picked up soon, because it is another world of brilliant stories.

Thursday Thoughts: Should I Join a Book Club?

So, I always thought I would become a sophisticated member of a book club. However, life so easily takes over and it just never seemed to happen. Until I joined the bookstagram community…

In the book-loving social media world, there are an amazing number of book clubs you can be part of. You have a choice of lovely themed ones such as ‘Maidens of Murder’. This is a community of crime fiction fans who read a different novel by Agatha Christie each month. You have a chance to discuss and share your thoughts on a post at the end of the month. I am not always great at sharing my thoughts, but I have really enjoyed the chance to read more Christie books that I may not have picked up.

Another favourite that I am part of is the ‘Victorian Sensation Book Club’. This is a great community of fellow book lovers who enjoy reading Victorian classics, especially those of the sensation genre. We read a section at a time and share our thoughts as we go. This has been brilliant for getting me to read books I would never have picked up before. And, of course, talk about books.

However, these two lovely book club opportunities are still a little safe, because you chat on a post or in a chat group. So, my bravest step was taking part in the ‘Tasting Notes Book Club’ from ‘The Book Taster‘.

This is a brilliant subscription book club and you receive a box of goodies with your book, which makes it a fabulous treat. Yet, this involves an online book club meeting which, for me, was a brave step. However, I am not sure what I was worried about, because it is an amazing safe space to discuss the book with fellow bookworms. And you can, of course, say as much or as little as you like. The two meetings I have attended so far have also involved us hearing the wonderful authors, which has been such a treat.

So, I may not have managed to attend or join a physical book club, but I have found so many fabulous book communities out there to be part of.

Why not have a look what is out there if you have fancied giving a book club a go?

Thursday Thoughts: Does it matter what I read?

I am sure you have realised that I absolutely love reading. And I will happily give almost anything a go (although I am not really a Sci-fi fan). However, I do think sometimes people feel judged by their reading choices and that is really not wha this hobby is about. In fact, if you think you would enjoy a book you should read it.

I really enjoy YA fiction – I am not the target audience, but who cares? All that matters is that it is the chance to read a good story. And, to be honest, it is an opportunity to learn something and see things from other perspectives, and develop empathy for those who may be the target audience.

However, I also dislike some of the snobbery that comes with genres, like the idea of ‘chick lit’ or ‘beach reads’. What is wrong with books with strong female characters? After all, surely ‘Little Women’ is a perfect piece of ‘chick lit’ classed as a classic. And surely a beach read is something that helps you unwind on a holiday, and that is certainly different for all of us.

So, do not worry about the books you want to read – if it makes you happy and helps you unwind, then pick it up and enjoy the escapism.