reading on the right day

Does anyone else love it when you read something and it is set on the day that you are actually reading it? I was reading yesterday and the character mentioned that it was 1st May and it made me feel deliciously content that I was reading on the same day.

I also love when writers set something on a very specific day and I can remember exactly what I was doing at that moment. Anything that was set when the Twin Towers went down is one example of this. Everyone remembers where they were and what they did on that day and I like to remember my life running parallel to the characters that I’m reading about.

There is a book called One Day by David Nichols and it is set on 15th July every year for twenty years. Most years I can’t remember what I was doing on that day, but my son was born on 16th July so when the story reached that year I couldn’t help but remember that I was in labour as the characters were living through their own stories.

I have heard that people make pilgrimages to some of the key locations in that book, every 15th July. I love that the date is so special to so many people who love the book and every time it rolls around I do think about Emma and Dexter and their story.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the reasons why we do it

person in gray skirt
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To find our riches and our fame,

The love for us will roll from lips

Of strangers, friends and family

All hoping they can bathe in light

Emitted from our regal bodies,

Casting warmth to toast their fingers,

Palms turned up to take in heat.

But what will happen when that fire

That rages in our bodies dies?

Will they turn away, bundled in their coats,

Shaking heads at what a disappointment we have been?

We have to do it for the fun of it,

The simple joy of having done a most fantastic thing.

We mustn’t do it for the love, the adoration

Or the Facebook likes. That will sap

The peace we crave underneath the fame.

I was reading Matt Haig’s Notes On A Nervous Planet and there was one of the notes that really stuck out for me. It was about our need for ‘things’ and I know that it is something that I struggle with, looking at what other people have and wishing that I had it too.

However, he made a really great point that wanting can also be seen as lacking. It is fine to want something; I guess that as humans we are programmed to need some goals and there would be no point in working if you couldn’t treat yourself once in a while. But that feeling of needing a new pair of jeans means that there is something lacking somewhere else in us.

It’s something that I’ve known and understood for a long time, but it did make me stop reading and take a moment to think about the message. I think it’s something that we all need to stop and think about sometimes. We are at our happiest when we are just being, so I know that this week I’m going to spend a bit more time enjoying the moment.

Much Love

Rachel xx

book to movie adaptations

There she is, in the flesh,

That woman that I conjured for so many days

With jet black hair and espadrilles,

But really she was mousy brown

And wore stiletto heels,

They changed the end as though

They had the right, the Godly power

To alter lives that once were set in ink.

And sometimes it can bring some colour to

A world that was so black and white,

The greens and blues become so bright

And beautiful, in ways I never thought they could.

The book was good,

But I loved the movie, possibly much more that I should.

I know that movie adaptations of our beloved books can be a bit of a touchy subject for some people and a lot of those people will say that a movie can never outshine that text that it was based upon.

In some respects, I guess I agree. But there have been several occasions where the movie has at least been comparable to the book. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve breathed a sigh of relief, as I have worried that the film or TV series would absolutely butcher a story that I love.

One person that is doing a lot of book to screen adaptations at the moment is Reese Witherspoon, and I have to say, she is on point. I am currently watching her take on the Celeste Ng novel, Little Fires Everywhere and I’m loving it.

I absolutely adored the book (and after reading Everything I Never Told You, she became one of my all time favourites). So, of course, I had to hold my breath as I began watching because I wanted Reese to have done it justice. And, oh my word, she has – helped along a bit by the fact that she has cast Pacey Witter as her husband, taking me even further back into the nineties than I already was when I started watching the show.

Reese also filmed an adaptation of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and, again I was blown away when I started off as a little bit nervous.

I do hate it when people absolutely swear off a movie based on a book and I find it a bit snobby when people don’t even give it a chance. I adore books, but there are people out there that hate it, and if these adaptations give them a chance to enjoy a great story that they otherwise would not, what is so bad about that?

Much Love

Rachel xx

is there a book that was written about me?

pile of assorted title book lot selective focus photographt
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There is a writer somewhere near

That heard my story on a silent wave

That wafted through a window gaping wide

And whispered neatly in his ear.

My story did inspire his hands

That tapped away at clicking keys

And came together bound in leather

Into books that sat on shelves

And made the people laugh and cry,

To feel my human soul just sigh.

I sometimes feel like books were written for me and then less frequently there are occasions when the book seems to be written about me. I’m reading one of those at the moment, and I feel like it’s the sign of a good book; when the words speak to you on such a level that you really believe your story entered the writer’s psyche.

I wonder if the writer does sit at their desk and there is some magical spirit like substance that permeates their room, giving them an idea that is so close to your own story that you have to pause while reading the words, just to catch your breath.

I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert a couple of years ago and she talked about writing a story that didn’t work out for her. And the day she decided to give up the story, she visited her friend, Ann Patchett. She hugged her friend and sat having a lovely coffee with her, never mentioning the story that she had decided was a failure.

A couple of months later she spoke to Ann again and Ann told her that since their last meeting she had been writing a story and she described the exact plot that Elizabeth had been working on. It was as though the idea had just bounced from one writer to the other.

So, if these creative ideas do just bounce around the atmosphere, surely our own life stories are out there to be grabbed and written down? To me, that’s quite an incredible thought.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when it’s all just too beautiful

Oh, it’s frustrating,

That little niggle that finds its way

To hook on you

When beauty gets too much

It takes your breath away.

I should be feeling blessed

Not green with envy like I am.

I’ve read some amazing stuff recently and it brought to mind a quote that I saw somewhere on the internet. I do find myself just having to stop for a while and just reflect.

It’s an amazing thing, and I should feel so lucky and blessed that I can read something that has such a profound effect on me. But the problem is that all I seem to feel is jealousy. I hate the person who wrote something so amazing; something that I know I’d never be talented enough to write.

All I can think about is my own stunted language that sits in my latest Google Doc. It’s like lumpy custard that I feel like everyone is turning their nose up at. Meanwhile, everyone is salivating over the custard from M&S that has all of those lovely little vanilla flecks in it. And the fact that I’m using custard as a metaphor for my writing is rather telling.

One day I’ll have something that I’ve produced that will be silky and sweet. But for now, I’ll just enjoy what other people are producing in spades and keep working at what I love. I’ll get there one day. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when you feel a toe curl coming on

It starts with images that feel

Wrong to taste, a bitter tang

That hurts the tips of tongues

And then it scratches at the brain

Warning that there’s something wrong

Something less than perfect swims

Through our bodies to our toes

Where muscles curl in fluffy socks

The sign that life is full of hot

And heavy moments meant to be

Private, unseen by our curious eyes.

I’m reading a book called My Dark Vanessa. It’s incredible. I would even go as far as saying it’s one of my favourite novels ever… and I’m only just over a hundred pages in.

The story is about a girl who is fifteen and she falls for her English teacher. However, it is much darker than just a story of a harmless crush; because the teacher encourages it and he is three times her age.

The author goes into real detail as to what the two of them get up to and it makes for a toe curling read.

I just wonder what it is that makes us, as humans, feel this horrid feeling. I just want to cringe, curl up in a ball and close my eyes and ears. I think it might be the fact that it’s something I know is wrong, or something that we shouldn’t be privy to.

I say that it’s a horrible feeling, but yet it becomes compulsive; it’s like an addiction that just needs feeding. Perhaps, it brings up all of the memories of those embarrassing crushes we had on teachers and what would have happened if something would have happened there.

It’s fascinating reading and it’s brought up so many uncomfortable feelings and thoughts; something that I think is sometimes important to feel when we read.

Much Love

Rachel xx

P.S can we also just take a moment to appreciate that cover. It’s just so beautiful that I would love to frame it once it’s read.

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
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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