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

sending out a few nice reviews

I really hate the fact that as a human race we love to complain. I, myself, love a good moan every now and then. However, I’m always far more likely to moan than I am to praise, especially since the internet makes it so easy to do it anonymously.

I’m not very good at complaining face to face and I’ve been known to eat cold food and not say a thing just so that I can save myself from the awkwardness. I’ve sometimes marveled at the people who can shout about things that they don’t like. I know that it makes people feel bad, but I sometimes wish that I could yell, just to let it all out.

My strength comes in my ability to write the scathing review on a website. I can feel all of the evilness seeping out through my fingertips and it feels like a relief.

But I never seem to write nice things about people. I can think them, but I very rarely go to the trouble to write out a nice review. So I do want to start being a little bit more proactive in the nice things that I dish out to the world.

I finished reading a book last night and the author had written a letter in the back. I always love to read the acknowledgements in books, so I duly read the letter too. It basically said that the author loves to hear from people who have read her book, that it makes her day.

Normally, I would have read that and thought that an agent would pick up all of the messages and the writer would get given a few of the nicer ones. But as I read the letter, I got the feeling that it was very genuine. I imagined the author opening lovely handwritten letters and keeping them all in her office to read when she feels down.

I know that’s not the way things happen these days, but I wanted to let the writer know that I did enjoy the book so I Tweeted. It only took me a second but I like to imagine that she got a little bit of happiness from reading it. Even if I gave somebody ten seconds of happiness, surely that’s enough?

So I’m going to make a bit more of an effort to send out some nice stuff into the world. I’m going to write a nice review, or an email and if I’m feeling really brave, I might compliment someone face to face.

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
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

my favourite part of writing a book

I made a cover today. It’s my favourite part of writing a book. Although I love the process of pouring out the words and getting lost in the story, just as I hope my readers will, there is something magical about creating the cover.

I love the idea that when it goes up on the interweb, that image that I just put together on my computer will be the thing that everyone sees.

And what if that bolt of pure magic strikes and it becomes a raging success? What if it gets seen by millions of people? Well that is the joy of creating art. We never know what is happening behind the scenes, what cogs are turning in the universe, unbeknownst to us.

That is something quite amazing, and enough to make me keep creating….. even if it never happens.

I’ll keep trying.

Hope you like it.

Rachel xx

i poured my heart out into a book

writer working on typewriter in office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I have this dream that one day I’ll be a celebrated author. I’ve written a handful of novels with the aim of getting them published properly, by Penguin or another publishing house that can throw tonnes of cash at it.

I was lucky enough to have a couple of agents want to look at my work, but none of them led anywhere.

It’s so disappointing, when you have poured so much time and love into a piece of work, to have nobody love it in quite the way you do. And a lot of the time, you have written about something that actually means something to you; there’s a little piece of you wrapped up in it.

In the end, I’ve self published and the books just languish at the bottom of the pile on Amazon. I think I’ve made about £35 out of my work so far!

I’ve just, this evening, finished my first little book of poetry and essays and I love it so much that I don’t know if I can bear the rejection that will come with sending it out.

But surely it’s worth a try? Surely there’s someone out there who will cherish a little piece of me? And maybe there’s a handful of readers that could heal and feel solidarity in knowing that we’ve experienced the same pain?

It’s no longer about the money; it’s about getting my words out and knowing that I’ve made someone feel better. It’s the feeling that I can reach out in the dark and say, “I’ve been there 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