Reading and Resting

For most of my reading life, reading and resting have been synonymous to me. Lazy Sunday afternoons conjure up images of pyjama bottoms and slouchy jumpers; a cup of tea in one hand and a good book in the other. Reading has been a restorative thing; a means of relaxation and of peace. It has been the plug point in which I recharge myself, and the energy supply I crave in my introvert time.

Then came along university and a history degree.

A history degree is basically a reading degree. You read, a lot. Which is great, for lovers of reading, but also bad. Because suddenly, something that was a synonym for rest, becomes entangled with work, and it can be more difficult to untangle the two.

This is something that I am still working on, and have by no means perfected, but I thought I would share a few tips that I have found useful for getting back into reading for rest.

Continue reading “Reading and Resting”

A Bookworm’s Recipe for a Relaxing Evening – With an Extra Helping of Sarcasm

I don’t know about you, but as a reader, I find it absolutely abhorrent that anyone would waste their evenings away on Netflix, watching films, binge-watching new shows, going out with friends…I mean, I never do any of those things. All I do is read every single night like a good little bookworm.

Okay, okay…before anyone comments telling me how rude I am, I’m lying! In fact, at the moment, I spend more of my time watching the Big Bang Theory before bed than I do reading. But when I do have a relaxing evening with a book, they are some of my favourite me-time nights.

So I’m going to tell you my 5 Steps for the best bookish night of your life (I’ll warn you in advance that sarcasm and exaggeration abound in this post!).

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1. Set the mood

I mean, You + Book = Best date ever! Am I right!? So you gotta set the mood. For me, this means that, first of all, on go the fairy lights! There are fairy lights in nearly every corner of my room, but they only all go on when it’s one of these ‘relax and read’ nights! Even if it’s still light outside (how dare you shine, sun!) the curtains are closed and the lights are on. I know, I’m just great for saving energy and the environment!!

2. Wind Down

The next thing I do is run a bath! There’s no better way to physically wind down than with a hot bath! You can make this extra bookish by reading in the bath, but this might make your pages wet and bubbly, and so I only recommend this to bath-reading experts. I advise that beginners should practice by sitting in an empty bath with no water, and extending their reading arm out of the bath, until you feel completely comfortable. Alright, maybe I’m going a bit too far with the book stuff…it’s just a bath, you feel clean, relaxed and happy YAY!

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These are my go-to treat time toiletries. I love using Lush products when I want to feel super clean and calm. The Mask of Magnaminty face mask is literally one of my favourite products of ever. I use it twice a week and it makes my face feel so great! And you have to feel good for your book date don’t you!?

3. Important Step No. One

This is a very, very important step, so listen carefully. In life, two things are certain to make you happy. Books, and tea*. But we’ll talk about books later, for now we’re talking tea. Tea is my favourite. If you know me at all, you know I’m obsessed with my strong builder’s tea. This is an essential for my perfect night. Well, actually it’s an essential for every day of my life, many times a day, but I had to mention it here because, you know, priorities!

*Sorry if you don’t like tea. If you don’t like tea you should probable just skip reading this one…

4. Pick your spot

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Now that you are clean and exercised, (yes, holding a book out of the bath is serious arm exercise!) it is time to move to your perfect reading spot. For me it’s my bed, because it doubles as my perfect sleeping spot. So I don’t even have to move when I want to transition from read to sleep. I’m a lazy person.

5. Important Step No. Two 

Now make sure you are reading this very carefully. This is the most important step of all, and failure to succeed in this final step will render all prior activities useless. You will need *coughs to clear throat dramatically* a book!

You can read whatever you are currently reading, or sometimes I pick up a new book specifically because I know it will help me relax and wind down.

Also, look at this adorable little book-light/torch I have. I don’t use it very often, but sometimes the fairy lights are just not quite enough light to read by, and this handy little contraption comes in very useful!

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And there you have it: how to reach happiness in 5 simple steps. Tune in next time for Sarcastic Life Guru Episode 2: How to have the best day of your life! Featuring reorganising bookshelves, taking pictures of books on Instagram, and drinking lots of tea.

 

One Year Blogiversary!

I’ve been very inactive for the past few weeks again. Anyone who follows me on my personal twitter/instagram will know that I have had a lot going on! I spent a few days in Alicante, taking part in something called Escape and Pray, I’ve been moving out of my room at Uni and coming back home, and have been getting ready to start my Summer job. Amongst all of this, there has been no time to read or blog! 😦

But I thought today would be the perfect day to get back into it, because today marks a rather special occasion…

It’s my ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY!

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On the 22nd June 2015, I published my first post on this blog, as well as my first picture on bookstagram! And it has been an amazing year! I’ve met some amazing bookish friends, I’ve been able to share my love of books with more people, and been surrounded by so many others who share that passion! So thank you so much to all of you who follow me either here on my blog or on my bookstagram, who like and comment on my posts, and who have interacted with me in one way or another. I don’t even have words for how amazing this year with you guys has been! And I can’t wait for hopefully many more years to come!

Soppy comments aside, I thought I would take this opportunity to give something back to one of my lovely readers! If I had the money and power, I would give something to all of you, but alas I am a poor student!

That’s right…I’m finally doing a GIVEAWAY!!!!

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The Prize:
One of my favourite books from this list:
– Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
– Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
– Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
– A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
– A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah. J. Maas
– Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
– A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Grat
– Across the Universe by Beth Revis
– Just One Day by Gayle Forman
– The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
(I am aware that the vast majority of these are series/trilogies, so you are welcome to request a sequel if you have already read the first, e.g. you want A Court of Mist and Fury rather than A Court of Thorns and Roses.)
The Rules:
– As this giveaway is to thank my followers, you must be following me here on my blog and/or on my Instagram (depending on where you are planning to enter). You don’t need a WordPress account to follow this blog – if you click the follow button, all you need is your email and you can sign up to follow!

– You are allowed up to two entries (1 via my blog, and 1 on Instagram)

– TO ENTER ON MY BLOG:
Just comment on this post below, telling me which book you would like to win!

– TO ENTER ON INSTAGRAM:
Repost the giveaway picture (the picture shown above) with the hashtag #readerinareverie1year, and mention me, and the book you would like to win (please don’t tag me in the picture!).

– You can enter once on each platform (so twice overall)

– Entries will close on Tuesday 12th July, to be announced on Wednesday 13th!


Disclaimers:

– This giveaway is international, as long as Book Depository ships to your country!
– You must be 18 years old or above, or make sure you have parental consent (as I will need your address to be able to send your prize to you!).
– Please don’t enter multiple times – I will check when finding a winner!

 

Finally, may the odds be ever in your favour! 😉

 

Mental Health Awareness Week | My Story

This is a much more personal post than usual. And I was honestly really debating whether to post it here or not, because this stuff is very personal. But it is currently Mental Health Awareness Week (16-22 May), and although this is a book blog, I think that the only way to really make people aware of metal health is to spread it everywhere, and be open and personal about it. Because depression is not a statistic, but a real thing happening to real individuals. And talking about our individual experiences with mental illness is essential to getting people to start viewing it that way.

I’m writing this on a low day. But, a low day amongst good days. Let me explain…

I really began to notice feeling regular low mood, and bouts of anxiety, around October/November 2014. I think they were feelings I had been experiencing for a while, but this was when they really began to become noticeable to me. More importantly, this was when it came to a point that it was affecting my day-to-day life.

I don’t like the ‘talking and getting help thing’. I’m quite happy to go about things on my own. But when my low moods were beginning to stop me from doing the normal things I wanted, I decided I should probably go to the doctors, because that is what we’re told to do, right? This was probably around December 2014 time. Unfortunately, I had a pretty unhelpful doctor. She told me that she had patients who had experienced low moods much longer than me, and that the time I had spent feeling depressed was so little. She asked me what I expected her to do about it. Did I just want the drugs? (Not really the best accusations to throw at someone already anxious and depressed!) In the end I was put into ‘Youth Counselling’ (a little patronising for an almost 18 year old, who was dealing with becoming an adult, and moving away from the label of ‘youth’). I missed my first counselling session, and eventually cancelled them all. Counselling just wasn’t for me, I told myself. I could counsel myself just fine. I understood what I was going through, and I could still work it though rationally, and I would get through it.

But it just got worse. Leaving the house began to fill me with dread. The walk to school made me feel sick. I would try to find any excuse in my head that might let me stay at home and stay in bed. I would spend hours staring at walls not feeling a thing, and not really noticing that time had gone by. I would cry myself to sleep most nights. I completely withdrew into myself and didn’t speak to people very often, didn’t go out to social events, and eventually stopped going to some of my sixth form classes. Basically, I reached the point where rational thinking was suspended. I couldn’t feel that it would be okay. I couldn’t feel rational. I couldn’t feel much at all. And I didn’t feel I could speak to anyone. Not even my friends. Besides my parents and sister, I told nobody what I was going through. Partly because I didn’t really know how to, and partly because I felt that people didn’t understand. That doctor trip completely knocked me down, making me think that because I hadn’t been in that state for years and years, my mood wasn’t anything significant. And I was in a sixth form school where I did not feel supported. When my parents eventually told me they would have to email the school about how I was feeling, not a single teacher ever asked how I was. When I attempted to explain it to one teacher, she just passed it off as me misunderstanding things. Yep…really helpful!

I felt stupid for feeling how I did, and I felt insignificant – that my problems were not worth talking about. I remember the doctor also asking if I wanted to commit suicide and no, I wasn’t planning to commit suicide. And again, it felt like another reminder of the insignificance of my condition. And although I hadn’t gotten to a point where I was planning to die, I thought about death an awful lot. I would think about how much easier it would be to not be alive. Or how if it were the end, it would be okay.

And so I withdrew further and further. As a Christian, I struggled with my faith; going to Church but not feeling any of the excitement and passion and spirit that I had usually felt. I couldn’t pray with any conviction. It wasn’t that I did not believe in God, it was that I could not live for God – I couldn’t feel, and therefore couldn’t grow in my faith. I spent my time doubting and blaming God. It got to the point where I really had to debate what I believed.

I struggled with periods of insomnia too. I remember that during my final exams, I could barely sleep at all. I think all of my exams were in the span of about a week and a half, and in that week and a half, I probably had no more than 10 hours sleep put together. Some of my exams I went into without any sleep at all.

By exam time, I was an utter mess. I was finishing school for good – it was supposed to be a happy time, or at least a momentous occasion, and I remember walking home after that final exam and feeling (other than an overwhelming relief that I did not have to set foot in that school again) so hollow and empty.

I want to make a point though, before this gets too depressing to read: things get better.

That summer after I had left sixth form, I went through a time of personal healing. By getting out of an unhealthy environment for me, I was able to begin seeing things more rationally. I made myself do something each week. I got on a bus to the city centre by myself (which sounds silly now but was a HUGE deal given my anxiety at simply walking to school every morning). I met with friends (who may be reading this and not even know that this was how I felt at that time). And I was slowly able to feel again. Feel happy about things. Feel excited about starting university. Feel capable of doing things that had previously paralysed me with fear. I cried less. I stopped crying myself to sleep every night. I could pray again. I began to be able to theologically reason again. I felt passion again. I started this blog (and my bookstagram account) and got back into reading again. People prayed for me at my church. And slowly, piece by piece, I was able to heal and get back to a place where I could cope again. Not just cope, but live feeling fulfilled and joyful and loved.

I’m not saying I’m healed and cured and completely well. As I said, I’m writing this on a low day. A day that I have spent most of crying, a day where I had a panic attack at the thought of leaving my room to go to get dinner. But the difference is that I can work through it in my head. I can cope. I’m still pretty rubbish at the talking to people about it part, but I feel in an environment where I have people that would help and let me talk, if I needed.

Mental illnesses are an ongoing battle. They force you to feel completely alone and unnecessary and unneeded. If you feel like I did, then go to a doctor or a counsellor. If they are as unhelpful as mine, go to another. I was lucky to have a very supportive close family, and very understanding parents who knew/experienced mental illnesses too, but if you don’t have that, speaking to a teacher, doctor, school counsellor, hotline number etc is so important. Don’t feel insignificant. You are not. It’s a lie that mental illnesses force you to tell yourself. And healing is about a constant, daily battle to force such negative thoughts back. And while you may not become a fully cured person who never relapses again, you find stronger and better ways to cope, until dealing with such thoughts becomes much easier and manageable again. Until you can go weeks, months, maybe even years feeling freer and happier than you thought possible.

Some of the biggest things that I believe helped me were prayer and church. Even when I was really thinking through what I believed, I came back to Jesus, and prayer, and the comfort, peace, love and hope that came with that belief, and through reading and researching, God became the logical answer for me (which is a whole other story in itself, and I won’t go into it all here, but I wanted to at least mention it, because my faith was essential to getting better). Being around other people coping with mental illnesses helped too, and made me realise that I’m not alone. And also reading. Reading, keeping this blog, reviewing books, getting to use my passion for writing, and my knowledge and love of books and publishing has helped so much. Some of the books that really helped me at low points were:

  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
    – Which really restored my faith and passion for God – I honestly think everyone should read this book! It is so thought-provoking and theologically interesting, whether you are doubting or even secure in what you believe.
  • The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkowski
    – I remember going to buy The Winner’s Curse on a very low day, and I had to get dropped off in the city centre and walk to Waterstones and pick it up on my own and it was so difficult on such a low day, and I felt so panicky. But then I spent the whole day and night reading these books and feeling so emotional – actually feeling! – whilst reading them, and every time I look at them on my shelf I remember that time.
  • Just One Day by Gayle Forman
    – I actually didn’t even know what this book was about before I read it – I thought it was a Summer chick-lit kind of book. But it ended up being about a girl starting College/Uni and struggling for a lot of the book with depression. (So basically the perfect book for me at that time!) It was such an unexpected but emotional read for me, and I cried so much while reading it – in a good way!)

This was a very personal topic for me to discuss, and a very long post (it’s over 2000 words – that’s longer than some of my uni assignments!), but something I felt that, on a day where I have been feeling particularly anxious and low, and in a week of the year dedicated to making people aware about mental health, it was important to write about. Partly for me to get my head around those feelings myself and to remind myself that I’m not alone, but also to let anyone else experiencing depression or anxiety know that you are not alone either. And mostly, to make sure that mental health is not something we think about one week of the year, but rather, every day of the year. I don’t think I have even been able to get down everything I could about this topic, and about how it has really affected my life. But I hope that I have at least scratched the surface, and I hope that anyone reading this and going through a really awful time, will feel some comfort in reading this, and knowing you are never alone, and that things get better. 

I am currently… (#1)

I know I have been pretty rubbish at posting regularly again recently. The reason is that I haven’t been reading a lot. I have been mega-busy and just haven’t had the time to read and write posts.

So I decided that I would start a chain of posts called: ‘I am Currently…’, where I can let you know what I am currently up to (book-related or otherwise). I am planning on making these posts every now and again, and to use it as a platform in which I can post, without necessarily having read much!

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I am currently…READING:

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I have two books on the go at the moment! I am about a third of the way through The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s very good, but requires a lot of concentration, and I want to give the book my full attention at a time when I am not so busy and preoccupied. I am also reading Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (book 2 in the Falling Kingdoms Series), and am nearly finished with it. I am really really enjoying this one, and it is so much better than the first book!

I am currently…WATCHING:

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I only really have two TV shows on the go at the moment: Once Upon A Time and The Shannara Chronicles. OUAT is, of course, amazing. I feel like it has really been picking up in the second half of season 5, and I’m enjoying it nearly as much as I was in the early Season One days. The Shannara Chronicles, on the other hand, I feel pretty mixed about. Some episodes I absolutely love, and some I find laughably bad! Anyone else have this problem?

I am currently…LISTENING TO:

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HAMILTON !!!

I am currently…OBSESSING OVER:
HAMILTON HAMILTON HAMILTON
I was pretty late to the bandwagon of Hamilton, but now I am on it, I am completely obsessed. I have been listening to the soundtrack every day for the past week or so, and I don’t see myself getting tired of it any time soon! Does anyone have a favourite track? I can’t decide between Satisfied, Non-Stop and The Room Where it Happens.

I am currently…STUDYING:
– for exams 😦
I have exams and assignments to complete before my first year of Uni is finished, so it’s a pretty busy, stressful time coming up, which is why I have been struggling to read a lot recently!

I am currently…WRITING:
I haven’t actually been writing a lot for a little while either. There is one of my stories (which I finished a first draft of about a year ago!) that I really want to edit and finish. But, again, studies and life are preventing me from having enough time to really dedicate to the long process that I know this editing will be. I’m hoping that over the Summer I can find some free time to really get started on it!
Most of the writing that I am doing (outside of uni essays and assignments) is in my journal. I have really gotten into keeping a journal, and I write in it almost every day. I’m finding it very therapeutic and a positive means of getting all of my thoughts down. If you want to find out more about my starting a journal, you can check out my post here.

I am currently…QUOTING:
I tend to have a new favourite quote all of the time. Sometimes it changes daily, sometimes monthly. Recently, I cam across a quote that I absolutely love…

“Now that you’re an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you’re told that you’re “in your head too much”, a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral.

Or maybe there’s another word for such people: thinkers.”

― Susan Cain, QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I have heard loads about this book, and it’s one that I really want to read. I have currently been really aware of being an introvert. I mean, I’m always aware, but sometimes more than other times. But I’ve also really been trying to tell myself that being an introvert, when others might not quite understand me, is not a bad thing at all! I think this book would be a very empowering read for introverts, and I really want to read it!

I am currently…WISHING FOR:
I’m not sure if I have mentioned this on my blog before, but my favourite Disney film is Poccahontas! And I also love Funko Pops. So when this was announced…FU8657lg.jpgI was pretty excited! It is set to be released on 30th June!

Also, going along with with theme of Hamilton…

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Can this book be bought at a price that is not £178 anywhere!!??

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So that’s all the ‘I am currently’s’ for today! Are you currently doing any of these too?

Starting a Journal?

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So this post is not so much book-related as it is life-related. But it is something I would like to discuss with you guys…

The idea of journaling. 

Personally, I love the idea of journaling, but I have never managed to keep one going long-term. I have kept multiple journals for specific periods of time or moments in my life that I have felt needed recording. Mostly in a sort of self-therapeutic way. For example, I suffer with OCD, and for a long time a large struggle that came with this was hand-washing. I would wash my hands so obsessively – 40 or 50 times a day sometimes. I would wash my hands after touching a pen that belonged to someone else, or flicking a light-switch… (I won’t go into full details because this is a blog post in itself). I was advised by someone to keep a ‘hand-washing journal’. It basically entailed me recording moments of washing my hands: why I washed them, trying to recognise which of those times were necessary, and which were a product of irrational thought processes. After a while, I began to notice the distinction much more easily, and was able to really cut down on unnecessary hand-washing. It has now become something I think about a lot less. And so I stopped this journal, because it had served its time and had helped me to overcome that problem.

But I have recently been thinking about all of things that happen in life. Not necessarily exciting, loud, movie-worthy events, but the everyday struggles, triumphs and thoughts of being an adult at uni: thinking about jobs, relationships, the future. Of being an introvert in a big, noisy world and trying to find myself in amongst all of that. Because when I think of just how much I actually think… I could seriously write a book!

So I am finally going to give a long-term journal a go! Hopefully some of it might be blog-post worthy, but I am mostly doing it to provide an outlet for the thoughts in my busy brain that don’t always come out verbally. If it turns out to be something that is only for my time at uni, or an even shorter season in my life, I will be okay with that. But if it turns into a much longer record, that would be great too. I’m just looking forward to a bit of freedom and the ability to express my thoughts in the medium I can communicate in best!

Of course, the idea of actually starting a journal is quite daunting. You have the notebook, the pretty, colourful pens… and then you have to actually start to write something.

So I have been doing a bit of research into some tips on starting a journal, and have thought of a few motivations to (hopefully) help me to stick to it, and I thought I would share some of the ones I will be taking on board!

  • Write an introduction
    – My first entry is going to be an introduction about me: where I currently am in life, what my current hobbies and interests are, my plans for the future etc.
  • Write like no one else is going to see
    – Because no one has to see your entries! I think that by being as open with your feelings as you can, that will allow for so much more creativity and expression.
  • Decorate
    – I’m not the most artistic person, and I am certainly not going to expect masterpiece art or even good doodles. But pretty colours, photos and stickers (to name but a few) all help me to feel creative and expressive, so I am going to make sure to add more than just black ink on a white page!
  • Date your entry
    – I know that some people don’t like to date their journal, and just allow it to be a continued flow of thoughts and entries, but I know for sure that I will want to read back over what I write, and that when I do I will want to know exactly when certain things happened.
  • Don’t write every day
    – Of course, if I have something to add every day, then I will! But I’ve tried this before, and by making myself write every day, or even making myself write to a regular schedule, it’s a sure-fire way for me to give it up! So I will write an entry as often, or not often, as I feel I want to.

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If anyone else keeps a journal, and has any tips or tricks they would like to share, please comment below! I would love to know who else enjoys journaling!