My Life

More personal ramblings.

Bluestocking Books London Tour

On Saturday I went on a bookshop tour in Central London after being invited by the brilliant Lauren at Bluestocking Books. There are rarely tours on weekends, instead the tours are mostly during the week – as that’s when bookstores really need people coming into them – so this was a bit special as it featured five very different bookshops.

We started off in Cecil Court – home to many unique bookshops with rare and antiquarian books, maps, prints, and lots of other book/printing related items. I’ve been to Cecil Court before, but I’ve always been intimidated by the shops. The antique ones look super expensive and I always felt there’d be a Pretty Woman moment, with shopkeepers thinking I didn’t fit in – but I was pleasantly surprised that that was not the case. Lauren had arranged for us to have a talk with Tim Bryars at Bryars & Bryars and it was great to hear the history of both the shop and Cecil Court. He also talked about antique books, how they’re valued and how there are books that are hundreds of years old for sale for £30 so antique books don’t have to be as intimidating as we (or I) might think. There was a book of Persian poetry that looked gorgeous and I was tempted by it, but its price was closer to £350 which was just a bit out of my price range but it showed there’s definitely a wide range of books and prices to be found.

Also in Cecil Court we visited Watkins Books, a shop that focuses on the mind, body and soul with books on religion, spirituality and the occult. I had my Tarot read which was different. A friend of mine has done Tarot readings before but (no offence to her) the guy in the shop seemed much more knowledgeable about the whole thing. I’m not sure if I believe in Tarot readings and that sort of thing, though some of the cards I picked definitely had relevance to my life right now, but it was an interesting experience and I like to keep an open mind.

After Cecil Court we went across to the few bookshops still on Charring Cross into Any Amount of Books, a brilliant second-hand bookshop that I’d been to before. This is a really great value shop. All the books are in really good condition, and there’s such a wide range of genres and release dates. I went in the basement for the first time and this was the one and only place I bought a book – I was very restrained. The book I bought was Augustown by Kei Miller which will be my Jamaica read for my Read the World Project.

Then we had a short walk to Soho and to Gosh Comics. Now my personal favourite comic shop in London is Orbital Comics (because the staff are super friendly, and it feels like what you think a comic shop should be like in terms of its layout and atmosphere) but Gosh is a great shop. It’s much brighter with a more open-plan layout so it’s easy to find different comics and graphic novels with the single issues and all the Marvel and DC comics in the basement, and the staff are still awesome and friendly. I enjoyed talking to other people on the tour about comics and giving recommendations and finding new comics that I want to check out in the future.

The final stop on this tour was the most glamourous bookshop I have ever been to – Masion Assouline. It’s a bookshop with a bar and its focus is bespoke coffee table books (some of which are huge and all of them are beautiful) and vintage books and objects. There we had a tour from a woman who works there as she took around the three floors of the store, and explained what Maison Assouline was all about and showed us the different collections and what they print. It was a shop that I’d never normally go into, but I’m really pleased I did. I like the idea of a book being a focal point in a room so if I ever have the money I will one day buy a bookstand and a huge beautiful book from Maison Assouline and put it pride of place in my future house!

The best thing about this Bluestocking Books Tour was Lauren. She was really well-informed about the bookshops and the areas of London we were in and had clearly put in the time in to make connections with booksellers so both they and those of us on the tour got the most out of the experience.

The tour lasted about two and a half hours and that time flew by thanks to the company, interesting bookshops and a great tour guide. I’d recommend wearing trainers, or at least comfy shoes, as you’re on your feet for the whole tour, and maybe an umbrella because this is London and I was the one person on the tour who forgot you could never trust British weather! Still, a little rain never hurt anyone. It was a fun and informative few hours, visiting an eclectic mix of bookshops with a wonderful and friendly guide. I love going into bookshops but there’s something more special about visiting them with fellow booklovers, and going to bookshops I wouldn’t normally think of visiting. I will definitely be more confident and visit shops in Cecil Court more often.

I really do highly recommend Bluestocking Books and if I was free during the week I’d definitely be going on the themed tours – I really like the sound of the Comics and Illustrated Books tour. You can find out more about Bluestocking Books and book your place on tours here and you can follow Bluestocking Books on Twitter.

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Books I Want My Hypothetical Future Children to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. This week the topic is all about the books we want our future hypothetical kids to read – or if we have any young children in our lives like nieces and nephews, what books we’d love them to read. I don’t know if I’ll have children, but there are definitely some books that I feel young kids should read, and books that shaped me and I’d love to share.

The Magician’s House Quartet by William Corlet
This series was one of the first to make me cry and I was less than ten years old. I’m not saying I want to make my hypothetical children cry but I’d like to see if it affects them as much as it did me.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This whole series is magical but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most magical and I think it’s one of the most accessible for younger readers.

The Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels
I actually gave all my Animal Ark books, all 70+ of them, to my Godmothers daughter years ago, from what I heard she did enjoy them and I hope now she’s a teenager that she’s either got them in a safe place or has passed them on to someone else to love. (more…)

Thoughts on… Halloween

It’s October 31st meaning it’s Halloween! If you’ve been online this past month, you’ve probably seen many a gif and if you’re on Twitter just about everybody has had Halloween-themed user names.

I’ve never been into Halloween and I think that’s because I live in the UK where while it has got bigger and more popular over the years, it was never a thing when I was a child. When I was growing up I lived on a street where there were no other kids and very limited lighting so it wasn’t like I took part in trick or treating or anything – and to be honest I think it was something that just didn’t happen.

When I was a teenager, friends had parties for Halloween but that was more of an excuse to get dressed up and get drunk, it was the same when I was at Uni. Yes I did dress up and have fun (my favourite was when a friend had Halloween/birthday party where the theme was dead-people or characters and I went as an unnamed zombie Red Shirt from Star Trek) but I never got into the real spirit of Halloween – whatever that is.

I don’t enjoy horror films so I don’t make an effort to watch them in October like some people do, and I don’t really read spooky books, so what I read and watch don’t make me feel very Halloween-y.

I don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys Halloween, it’s just not for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Brit and never did the trick and treating thing or because I don’t like scary things. This year I have no plans for Halloween, instead I’ll be curled up in front of the TV watching Bake Off and eating chocolate. But to all those who celebrate and enjoy Halloween – I hope you have a great time!

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: Candy Corn, chocolate or popcorn – which is your favourite to eat while reading?

Book Blogger Hop: Halloween Edition!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: Candy Corn, a chocolate bar, or Popcorn. Which of these snacks are your favourite to eat while reading?

I’ve never had Candy Corn so I can disregard that right now. It’s one of those American foods that I’ve not tried and while in some UK supermarkets there’s a small “American food” section that has stuff like Hershey bars and pop tarts in it, I haven’t ever seen Candy Corn there. I find popcorn can leave you with greasy fingers and obviously I don’t want to get food marks on my books, and to be honest I only really eat popcorn at the cinema, I very rarely have it at home. So, my favourite is a chocolate bar. Chocolate is my favourite snack to eat while reading because you don’t get your fingers dirty because you hold the wrapper, it’s the best.

Thoughts on… Not Replying to Messages

I am terrible at replying to messages – whether that’s emails, texts, WhatsApp messages, FB messages, any form of messaging contact I am bad at replying. I’m not always sure why I am so bad. Sometimes I see a message, open it and think “must reply to that” but I’m doing something else and forget and next thing I know it is three days (or more) later. Sometimes I don’t even open the message because then I think, the notification will stay there to remind me to read and reply, and in the case of WhatsApp – they won’t know I’ve read it and then am ignoring them/forgotten all about it. Sometimes this prompts me to reply sooner rather than later, other times I end up with dozens of notifications on my phone I’m ignoring.

As I write this post I currently have 104 unread emails staring at me from my phone. These emails are from four accounts; my work email, my blog email, my personal email and my “professional” email aka the one I use when applying for jobs and LinkedIn and such. Many of these emails are notifications from my blog (new followers, comments etc), automated emails from sites like Etsy, AO3 and LinkedIn, and emails about my latest Amazon order. Probably only 10 emails or less are something I need to actively read and reply to – so why aren’t I?

Sometimes I think it could be a kind of anxiety thing (I don’t have anxiety but how I feel about the pressures of emails mounting up does make me feel a bit uneasy) If I don’t open them, I don’t have to deal with it, but then there’s more and more of them and that puts me off opening them even more.

Sometimes I don’t feel like talking to people – this one is probably a bit more of a problem when it comes to emails to my blog-related email account, especially if it’s someone offering me the opportunity to review something. My close friends know I’m generally slow at replying to a text/WhatsApp message and understand that a three-day wait is pretty normal for me, but with other people it doesn’t always work and I must force myself to reply as soon as I get the message otherwise I won’t for ages. I just know what I’m like.

It’s weird because for work, I can reply pretty promptly to an email, or at least within 24 hours if I reply the next day (I refuse to deal with work emails at home) but with personal ones I put it off a bit. Maybe it’s because at work I feel people are relying on me or are waiting for a response before they can do something else but to be honest, anyone who emails me, whether that’s for work, my blog, or personal, are waiting for a response so that’s no real excuse. Maybe it’s because with work I have to reply or there’s a network of people to have a go at me if I don’t, whereas anything to my personal or blog email account, it’s up to me to reply and deal with it – no one’s making me besides my own conscience, and that takes a back seat sometimes.

Really this post is me, trying to put my thoughts in order on why I am so terrible at replying to messages. I don’t think I’ve really succeeded but if you ever email me about my blog, or leave a comment that I take a week to reply to, maybe you can now see why I take so long to respond.

Replying to messages more quickly is something I’m working on. Now, to prove that I’m going to go and whittle down my unread emails – even if it’s marking a lot of them as read!

Thoughts on… Exercising

About six weeks ago I joined the gym. This was the second time I’ve joined the gym, the first was almost two years ago when I wasn’t working so went to the Zumba classes on weekday mornings. That lasted less than two months because then I moved house – I moved only a ten minute drive away from the gym, but when it was previously a minute’s walk away, I found it easy to stop.

But this time it’s been six weeks and I’m sticking with it. I go three times a week, twice is to the actual gym itself, I have two different routines I alternate (one focusing on my legs, the other on my upper body) and once is to go to Total Boxing – a fitness class using boxing gloves and pads.

I wouldn’t say I enjoy going to the gym, but I don’t hate it and now I’ve got into the habit there’s now hassle in me stopping off there on my way home from work twice a week. The boxing class on a Friday evening on the other hand, I really love. Boxing is a sport I’ve never previously had much interest in before, and while the class I go to isn’t for fighting, it’s for fitness, I’ve found myself really enjoying it. and I suppose it can’t hurt to learn how to throw a proper punch.

I decided to attempt to do regular exercise, not because I wasn’t to lose weight, but to generally get fitter. I’m on my feet all day at work but I do drive a lot and just started to feel that I’m not as fit and as healthy as I could be. The main reason I decided to give this exercise thing a go, is because I know my diet is pretty terrible (I don’t really eat any fruit or vegetables) and I am also self-aware enough to know I won’t be changing my diet any time soon. So if that wont change, I should probably do some exercise to try and balance things out a bit.

I don’t think I’ve really lost any weight since I’ve started this regular exercise thing, and my upper-body strength is still abysmal, but I do feel good when I get home. I feel like I’ve achieved something and it’s half an hour or so I can listen to some music, switch off and get my heart rate up a bit. I do smile to myself sometimes because whenever I think about exercising, I think about the clip below from Legally Blonde – endorphins make me happy so i’m not going to flip out at anyone any time soon.

Thoughts on… My Most Watched Actors

I have a Letterboxd account and it’s pretty great. Letterboxd is the movie version of Goodreads so you can log what you watch, write reviews, make lists and follow different users. If you get a Pro account (which is only $19 a year which is about £15 and I think that’s pretty good value to be honest) you get to see what your various movie-related stats are each year you log films and overall on all the films you’ve ever marked as watched.

I’ve been looking at which actors I’ve watched the most overall and there’s some interesting things there but it does make me want to try and change some of my viewing habits.

Out of my top twenty most watched actors, just two of them are women – Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett Johansson was someone I was surprised to be there as she’s not one of my favourite actors nor someone who I’d go to see a film just because they’re in it. Her being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly helped give her a boost and for a younger actor (she’s 32) she’s been in the business for a while and has an eclectic filmography. Rachel Weisz is a new addition because I have been watching more of her filmography recently, trying to get her (and more women in general) into my top twenty. In comparison to Johansson, Weisz is an actor who I love and will seek out films just because she’s in them but she usually stars in dramas or films that aren’t so mainstream hence while she is someone I do really like, her filmography isn’t always to my taste. (more…)