bookshelf envy

Their perfect spines all lined in rainbow

Colours, red through to an indigo.

I wonder where we’ll go when they

Are peeled apart like autumn leaves,

Crisp and cream and full of life.

I wish that I could have that wall

That’s stacked from floor to high ceiling

But all I have is two or three,

All my favourites, may I add.

There are a lot of clever people on the TV at the moment. With us being in a really bad place with the virus, but also having a vaccine, there are a lot of experts being interviewed.

Normally, I try to switch off because they scare me, but I’m always transfixed by the bookshelves behind them. All I want to do is read the spines and wonder if they have inhabited the same worlds that I have. When I see a book that I have read, I get super excited.

I’ve always done this. When I was younger, my mum always bought interiors magazines and rather than looking at all of the soft furnishings and beautiful kitchens, I would look at the bookshelves.

I think it’s the true mark of a book lover when you are more interested in the bookshelves than the people. I am most definitely an addict.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the bench in front of the bookshop

assorted books
Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

I’d often sit on the lonely bench

In front of the bookshop, the one in town

With colourful displays of women’s fiction

And books for kids, filled with pictures

And adventures that I would never have time

To take part in myself. And I’d look at those tables

Out in the front, with books that have sold

In the thousands, the millions and been optioned

For TV and film with Leo DiCaprio in a starring role.

I would look at it like a sweet shop for kids,

Just wanting to touch each of the covers

And then I would wish that I had my place on those shelves,

My own little book with my name on the front

And a sticker that says ‘signed by the author’

And people would hurry inside to get hold

Of a copy of my work that I’d poured in my soul

And everyone would love it and critics would say

It’s the best bloody thing written this century.

I sit on my bench and sigh as I remember

That is not true and probably won’t be,

So I pull down my hat and tighten my scarf

As I move from the bench, already looking

Forward to the time when I can return to my bench

And live out that fantasy just one more time.

a little bit of fiction and a whole lot of learning

books in black wooden book shelf
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Those little swirls of velvet knowledge

That leap from bland vanilla pages

That we sneer at with disdain.

But each and every ripple through

Can flavour and can stick in minds

And one day maybe you will see

How handy they will soon become.

I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday, someone who teaches science, and we spoke about the interconnected nature of all the subjects. It started as a discussion about science teachers being able to teach Jekyll and Hyde better than some English teachers because they know so much about how the world of science was developing at the time it was written.

We mused that it is such a shame that subject teachers don’t dot around in other lessons more often. We can bring so much to another area that I feel the kids must miss out a bit with us keeping the subjects in their own separate boxes.

What if the English department taught some drama and art? What if the historians taught some English? What if the scientists delivered some food tech lessons? Those subjects wouldn’t suffer in the slightest; in fact, they would help the kids to flourish.

We then got onto how much we can all get out of literature and it made me feel really proud and excited to be teaching the subject. It really reminded me how much we learn from reading fiction. I always think that reading is entertainment, but actually I squirrel away bits of information that I find in every text I read.

We can expand our worlds infinitely through books and it makes me really sad that a lot of the students miss out on that because their parents don’t value books.

Right now I’m reading Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson. It’s all about the slave trade and the abolitionists. I knew about the slave trade through the protests that happened this summer but I had never read into it and my reading is filling me in on some of the horrors that took place. Essentially, my reading is making me look a little less ignorant and a little more like a person that is thoughtful and interesting and compassionate.

So, what I’m really saying is go out and read!

Much Love

Rachel xx

the comfort of a good CHILDREN’S book

Oliver Jeffers

The humble rhyme that threads its way

Through the frosty winter’s day,

The comfort that those pictures bring,

That make out hearts leap out and sing.

Now is when we need those books,

Read in cosy little nooks.

They soothe our tired and burdened soul

And make us feel completely whole.

Lauren Child

I have such a soft spot for children’s books and I follow a whole heap of illustrators on Instagram, even though I don’t have any kind of art background. I just think it’s such a skill to be able to put pictures to words and do it in a way that can touch all ages.

And Christmas is the time when I want to read these books more than ever. They’re like a bowl of chicken soup that just warms you from the inside. The story doesn’t even need to be Christmassy; I just need to get lost in the pictures and the words.

David Litchfield

Of course, as somebody who writes, I am partial to a good rhyme and there are so many books that rhyme throughout. I just feel like those words suck me in and pull me along in a way that no adult book can ever really do.

I keep meaning to write my own story aimed at really young children because I do love to create art too. Perhaps that could be my project for the next few weeks while it’s dark and I feel under the weather. So, I need ideas people. Anyone who wants to throw something my way, I’ll make it into pictures and words.

Pascal Campion

In the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures by illustrators that I absolutely love. I hope they bring you as much joy as they bring me.

Much Love

Rachel xx

why do some people make it and others don’t?

man performing on stage
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Lady Luck and the God of Talent

Often war over who will be

The successful one in life this year.

Will it be the underdog?

Or will it be the prodigy?

There’s really never any telling who,

But surely that’s the fun in all

The effort that we make to win,

To try and reach that mountain top,

Regardless of the prize that waits?

I often wonder what it takes to become really rich and really successful (whatever that may mean). I mean, did JK Rowling really become the most successful author in the world because she is the most talented there has ever been? Is Roger Federer really that great at tennis, or is he where he is because he was privileged enough to be given tennis lessons when he was a kid?

There is no denying that these people have worked bloody hard, and there is a hell of a lot of talent involved, but is success more about luck than anything else?

I just can’t see what separates one actress from another, or makes a singer worthy of a record deal and everything that goes with it. I can see that if you want success then you need to put your work out there, but surely you are really just waiting for that lightning to strike right where you happen to be standing?

For that reason, I always try to see my writing as the thing that brings me joy, regardless of the fact that it may never bring me any riches. I wouldn’t mind a bit of luck though. It would be nice to have some validation.

But then again, am I strong enough to take it? Perhaps we are given what we can handle and the powers above know that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. We’ve all seen the pop stars that fall from grace when it all gets too much and perhaps I’m just being protected from that. I mean, I don’t think that I could handle the bashing that JK Rowling has taken over the past few months.

Whatever the stars may have written out for me, I just hope that I have a really fun and love filled life that provides me with the stories to tell in the writing that I enjoy so much.

Much Love

Rachel xx

if i were an austen lady….

If I were an Austen lady, written by hand

By Jane at her table in the light of the window,

I’d dance off the page and out into life.

I’d fall into love with dashing young men

With top hats and canes and ten thousand pounds.

I’d play cricket on lawns, hitching up skirts,

Reciting long poems at great family soirees.

I’d friend request Emma, Elizabeth too

And we’d picnic in pastures, unspoiled by man.

Oh, how I’d love to dance off that page

And live a life simply, away from the screen,

Away from the pressures and newfangled ways.

This is a picture of me and my great friend Sarah when we visited Jane Austen’s house in Alton. It’s just down the road from me and we have visited a couple of times. I always get so goosebumpy knowing that I’m walking in the same places that Jane did. We can never resist dressing up either!

Much Love

Rachel xx

poetry perfection: diary of a somebody by brian bilston

For somebody who writes poetry every day, I’m not much of a poetry reader. I think it’s because a lot of the books I see are too clever for me; or too deep. I don’t know if I’m just a bit too dim to understand what these poets are going on about.

But this….

This book was bloody brilliant. It was like a male Bridget Jones with a poetic twist. I laughed out loud; like proper snorted. I very nearly shed a tear at the end and I know for fact that I will be thinking about it for many days and weeks to come.

It’s nice to know that you don’t have to be deep and dark to be a poet. You can be a little bit silly and just have a genuine love of words and you can still make a success out of it.

If you are ‘sort of into poetry’ and you want something that will just warm your heart, I highly recommend this book for Christmas. I have looked on Goodreads and Brian has a few books out so I will definitely be reading those.

If you can’t get hold of his books then you can always follow him on Twitter (that was how I first came across him).

I’m on the hunt for some good Christmas books now, so any suggestions will be very gratefully received.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i wish i was a fantasist

brown and red birdhouse
Photo by David Gonzales on Pexels.com

To lose oneself down the rabbit hole,

Where time and space are hanging in mid air

And sense will tell me that I’m lost,

That’s the place I long to be.

But instead, I find myself in tangled webs

Of lovestruck fools who know no better,

Or waiting for the killer to

Jump from pages crinkled in my clammy hands.

Oh, I wish I was a fantasist like you.

It’s no secret that I’m a book lover. Half of the reason I blog is because I’ve always enjoyed reading blogs that give great book recs. But I do look on enviously at those readers and reviewers who love fantasy.

I’ve tried time and time again to like fantasy but I just can’t get along with it. The fantasy crowd have the best characters (they have wings and horns and magic). They also have such a cool community and despite it being fun they can also look like they’re serious readers because they have Tolkien and the likes in their libraries.

I, on the other hand, am into romantic comedies and page turning thrillers; the kind of books that you can pick up in any supermarket.

I wish that I could lose myself in fantastical worlds but I love the cheap thrills and the promise of a happy ending, boy meeting girl and everything working out for the best. I wish I was a fantasist…..

Much Love

Rachel xx

how do we talk about grief (a bit of a book review- a monster calls by patrick ness)

It twists us with it’s sharpened claws,

Wringing out the tiny drops

Of feeling left for loves of lives.

But grief is part of daily life

And talking is a cooling balm.

It’s just so hard to find the words

That make that wound feel healed at all.

I got a work email the other day to say that one of the students I work with has had some terrible news. It has long been known that his mum is ill and his behaviour has been problematic to say the least. However, the email said that he would be off school for a little while because she had been given days to live.

My hear sank as I read the words. Selfishly, I wondered how on earth I would ever be able to talk to the poor kid. I could only imagine how awkward it would be to utter the words ‘are you OK?’

Those words always feel so empty when you know that somebody is going through something so unimaginably painful. And so yes, my heart sank.

But interestingly, just one day later I was asked to write and deliver a lesson on bullying using the Patrick Ness book, A Monster Calls. I only had to read one chapter, but I got into it and found that I couldn’t stop.

The book is about a kid called Conor whose mum is dying of cancer. A monster comes to visit him to give him advice and lessons in life that will help him through what is going to come.

I’ve only read one Patrick Ness book before this and I hated it. But this, just blew me away. It was beautiful and sensitive and insightful and everything that I would look for in an adult read. It was perfection.

I don’t know if it will help me speak to this student that I know, but it felt serendipitous that the book fell into my hands at just the right moment. It just goes to show that we really are given all the tools we need, we just need to be open to receiving them.

I loved this book so much that I’m excited, rather than nervous about delivering this lesson. I hope that my enthusiasm for the book can inspire the kids to have a go at the whole book too. And perhaps I can encourage a couple of you to read it too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i seem to have a bit of a thing for orange themed books

I don’t normally do book reviews on my blog but reading is one of my most favouritest past times and this is my space to express myself, so why the fuck not?

I tend to read 50+ books a year so I have lots of material to choose from when I am deciding which is my favourite.

I’ve just finished a book that I really loved and it’s probably shot into my top 3 of the year so far. The book is Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce and it’s a thriller (my absolute favourite genre, sorry not sorry).

I read some of the reviews on Goodreads and a lot of them were saying that it was really predictable and boring but I beg to differ. I find this a lot though and it puts me off relying on reviews. Art and writing is subjective so it’s impossible to say that I won’t like something that you adore.

The funny thing is that while I was away on holiday in the Norfolk Broads I picked up a book from a charity shop in Norwich. I had never heard of it but it was blurbed as being ideal for fans of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (biggest fan right over here, thanks very much).

So I purchased this book on a whim and I whiled away the hours reading this book called Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. It was the most perfect holiday read and I just loved how dark it was.

I’d highly recommend either of these books if you’re looking for something good to read. But it just made me chuckle that my two favourite books so far this year are very orange.

My next reads will probably have to include Clockwork Orange, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and Orange is the New Black. Any other orangey recs will be greatly appreciated.

Much Love

Rachel xx