I am sure that by now most of you will have heard of the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð or book flood on Christmas Eve. If you haven’t, in Iceland it is traditional to give each other books on Christmas Eve and then settle down to read them and eat chocolate.
For several years I have wanted to adopt this practice for myself and this year, finally, I managed it.
We actually had company for dinner so we couldn’t spend hours reading but once they had gone we shared our books and settled down to finish the day. I received a lovely copy of Dear Enemy – the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. It is one I have read before but I wanted a nice vintage copy because my previous one had been print on demand and didn’t contain the pictures which add so much to the story.
I wasn’t disappointed either – I loved the pictures and was once again swept up by the story. It was the best way to wind down on Christmas Eve and I will definitely be hoping to do the same thing again many times in the future.
A slightly early post this week, just to wish everyone who celebrates a very Merry Christmas.
Christmas reading time is here! One of my favourite things about Christmas is the long, dark evenings which can be spent in front of the fire with a board game or a book. It is just so cosy and wonderful.
It has to be the right kind of books though and I have made a tentative stack of books I may read over the next few weeks. Or possibly not. The whole point is to read exactly what I want and what makes me happy.
Most Christmases I try to read lots of my favourite children’s Christmas stories but this year not all of the books are obviously Christmassy. Some of them do have hidden Christmas scenes – I am reading What Katy Did at School primarily for the wonderful Christmas box the girls receive – but what I really want right now are cosy comfort reads. In fact, I have been looking forward to these books for weeks – which makes me think that perhaps I should read more of them throughout the year!
I have just finished reading Daddy-Long-Legs (I still love it as much as I ever did) and have moved on to Katy which I have not read for years. I know I am going to thoroughly enjoy the next few weeks!
Do you have Christmas reading (or other) traditions? I would love to hear them.
Last Friday I went on a little excursion to Bath. Ostensibly this was to do a bit of Christmas shopping and look at pretty lights, with a quick stop off for a shoppers’ carol service in the Abbey. In reality I was mostly going so that I could visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
Mr B’s has been one of my favourite bookshops for years. It is always a joy to browse the shelves, hidden a little away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. When they were crowdfunding to expand into next door I knew that I had to contribute something. Apart from anything else, it meant that I got a tote bag, a bookmark (always things I want) and best of all my name actually on the ceiling in the shop! Of course I had to make a trip to see that.
The ceiling isn’t quite finished yet but I could still see my name under the film – and in a lovely font too. This room is the Imaginarium where you can go to be a writer in residence for the day. It looks like such a fun thing to do – I would be sorely tempted, although I’m not sure blog writing counts!
Of course, I had to also have a proper nosy around the shop and I spent a good deal of time there dithering over my purchases. In the end I bought a copy of Maddy Alone by Pamela Brown which looks right up my street. It had the added bonus of being in the new, wonderful children’s room which I loved. It even has flaps to lift on the wall!
As usual, I had a great time and I can’t wair to visit again and see the finished ceiling.
I have never been on an actual reading retreat but the idea sounds absolutely wonderful. Going away to spend time reading is like a dream.
However, last week I went away for the week and, although I did have some things I wanted to see while I was there, I planned to read as much as possible. We had a stunning view from our window so I spent a lot of time there with a book and I think I read in most of the coffee shops in the town!
All of that industry was very productive too – I managed to read seven books in six days. They were all children’s books but that’s still quite impressive for me. Even better, for the first time in my life I finished every single book I took with me – so I was more than justified in taking so many (and indeed in buying more!).
I had the best time and I didn’t really want to leave – now I’m back at work I have been reading the same book since Sunday and it’s just not the same!
Last week I got to go and see Lucy Worsley talking about Queen Victoria. I was lucky enough to get to see her Jane Austen talk last year and she was brilliant so I was very excited about seeing her again.
It was blowing an absolute gale on the way over but I had such a good time. Lucy Worsley is a great speaker and of course the subject matter is so interesting.
Naturally, I couldn’t leave without buying a book. I loved the Jane Austen at Home book which went with last year’s talk and so I really wanted all of the books on offer. In the end though I stuck with the book about Queen Victoria which actually related to the talk. I am so looking forward to reading it!
This year I am starting my annual Christmas re-read of Little Women a bit early as I am doing so in the company of some lovely people on Instagram – the Kindred Spirit Network.
Social media is a bit of a tricky topic for me – if I spend too long scrolling – and on a bad day too long can be five minutes – I end up feeling very down and it really isn’t good for me. On the other hand, I need to use it if I want to promote my blog. It is difficult for me to find the right balance sometimes.
However, a huge positive side of social media – and Instagram in particular – is the connection I can so easily make with like minded people. I love having a book club with real people I can talk to in person but none of them really enjoy the same books as me. Yes, it makes me read a wider range of books and that is great – but sometimes I just want to read a cosy, comforting book which I love. It is even better if I can share that book with other people who love it just as much as I do.
I am therefore very much looking forward to a couple of months spent curled up with Little Women (and Good Wives – they are usually published separately in the UK). I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.
I have written before about how much I love audiobooks but I have realised recently that I have been listening to them more than ever. Before I discovered I could download audiobooks from the library onto my phone I had a limited supply of books – my choice isn’t limitless now but it is much wider. I am listening to books almost constantly – in the car, working in the stables – any time I can’t read an actual, physical book.
The increase is very obvious when I look at my reading log. Last year I listened to 13 audiobooks – so far this year I have heard 39, with two months still to go.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been working hard on a pair of crochet socks – I often have spells when I am very enthusiastic about crochet and don’t want to be doing anything else. Audiobooks are perfect for that as I can lose myself in the story whilst still having both of my hands free. The only downside is that I have been reading far fewer physical books and I do miss the act of sitting down with my book.
It has also meant that I can’t necessarily read the book I really want as I don’t have access to it in audio form. I am, however, reading a much wider range of books – I tend to just browse until something takes my fancy. I’m sure it’s very good for me!
On Sunday I had a stand at a book fair as part of the Appledore Book Festival. The day started off with pouring rain and I thought we were in for a very slow day. However, by the time we opened the sun was shining and everything was beautiful.
I ended up having a great day. Obviously selling books is good but more than that I had some wonderful bookish conversations which meant that I would have enjoyed myself if I hadn’t sold anything.
I had such a lovely day. Yes it was hard work but it was so good to have the opportunity to talk about books with so many people who love them.
On Saturday I took my book stall out for its first outing of the year. Previously I have always had it within a larger marquee or room full of other stands. This time I didn’t have that option so I had my own little gazebo to set up. I had tried a practice run at home and was quite excited about having a space to myself which I could make cosy and just how I wanted it.
We had to arrive early as we had some entries to set up in the craft classes and as it was a reasonable drive I decided to stay and start setting up. For one thing, I didn’t really know how long it would take me with the new gazebo.
That turned out to be a great decision. It was so much more relaxing to have a leisurely set up process instead of rushing and getting stressed. I have been known to get so wound up when short of time that I have actually been unable to remember the alphabet. That was not a fun experience and this was far more enjoyable.
Even better was that fact that my sister lives close to the fête and kept us constantly supplied with tea and cakes. Such a luxury!
Once I was all set up I had nothing to do but sit in the shade and read until the fête opened. It was a lovely, sunny day and even when the crowds started arriving it just meant that I could talk to more people about books – which is after all the point of having the stall in the first place. That and selling some of the books of course!
It was a delightful afternoon. There cannot be many better ways to spend time than sat on the grass with a book, good conversation and listening to music from a Dixieland band. Bliss!