Category Archives: Books

Mindfulness – My Next Steps


Hey! 

It’s February!! Can you believe it?! What’s more shocking is it seems I’ve already broken my New Years resolution – I only posted once in January. What a let down I clearly am!! 

However, it’s time for a change. I love my job and what I do but I need to make more time for me. I keep saying it but I never seem to see this through, until now. Maybe. Hopefully. 

I was visiting my local Waterstones and spotted the book ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’. I do feel quite frazzled, tired, emotional, wondering how I am still standing. Therefore, it appealed. Ruby Wax however, is a new one for me. I was never a fan of her TV shows. Maybe I’d like her writing better?! It’s worth a shot. 


I’ve no idea if this book is going to help me or even change me. But, and I’m hanging onto this but, I feel like I need to do something. No one can carry on at such a fast pace, working 12, 13 or 14 hour days. It’s bound to catch up with even the best of us at some point. I just want to get in a clear head space, to have some ‘me’ time. No stress 2017 is my motto – even the kids are reminding me of this. I don’t feel stressed but I do feel frazzled

I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. I love reading anyway so the worst case scenario is that I’ve just read another book. Not such a bad thing really. Yet, if I can feel a little less frazzled that would also be delightful. 

So, I’m going to bed with my book to start the next chapter. Wish me luck. Oh, and if anyone had read this, please let me know what you think! 

Big love all xx

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Filed under Books, Mindfulness

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Hey everyone! 

I hope you’re all happy and well on this lovely Monday morning. August already!! I can’t believe it. One week into my summer holiday as well. Time really does fly. 

Well, yesterday the big day finally came, the day when the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play script was released, on Harry’s birthday nonetheless. 

I’m excited but apprehensive like everyone else I guess. When you grow up with something it becomes a part of you. When something gets changed or adapted or added to, you always wonder whether it will be as wonderful as you expect it to be. Yet, I’ve got no doubt I will fall in love with this. 

However, this is marred with some sadness. It is the end. I can’t believe this is really it. Rowling said herself: 

“He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done. This is the next generation, you know. So, I’m thrilled to see it realised so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

Could this ever really be the end when so many live and breathe Harry Potter? 
Regardless, I’ll see you on the other side. Have you got yours? 

Magic is happening all over again. I can’t wait! 

Big love. Xx


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Filed under Books, Harry Potter, Play, Reading

The 50 Books Every Child Should Read By Age 16 

Hey everyone! 
Hope you’re well on this Sunday evening and that you’ve had a restful weekend. 

I’ve been having a mooch online and stumbled across this list being advertised on Facebook. Naturally, I was inquisitive. It’s an interesting list based on, as the title of this post suggests, the 50 books every child should read by age 16. I had to check this out. 

Now I’m a bit of a geek and have a spreadsheet based on what books I’ve read and in what year. #booklovenotashamed. I was curious to see how many I’d read and I wanted to pass this onto you guys to see which ones you’ve read by this age. The ones I’ve read are striked out. 

Here goes. The 50 books are as follows:

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- C.S. Lewis – Read after age 16. Didn’t really take my fancy as a child or an adult. 

Winnie The Pooh- A.A.Milne

Black Beauty- Anna Sewell

James and The Giant Peach- Roald Dahl & then again at university. It formed part of my dissertation! 

The BFG-Roald Dahl

A Bear Called Paddington- Michael Bond

Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

Matilda- Roald Dahl

The Railway Children- E. Nesbit – Watched the film, but haven’t read the book. 

Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens – Read but after the age of 16. This would have been a huge book to read at that age! 

Five on a Treasure Island- Enid Blyton

The Wind in the Willows- Kenneth Grahame

The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle

The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling – Nope… Loved the Disney film too much. 

Charlotte’s Web- EB White

The Tale of Peter Rabbit- Beatrix Potter

Watership Down- Richard Adams – Saw the film. It left me traumatised. 

The Hobbit -J.R.Tolken

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling – Read a number of times BUT it was published after my 16th birthday. 

Lord of the Flies- William Golding

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ Sue Townsend – Read a couple of years ago when she sadly passed away. 

Great Expectations- Charles Dickens – Read at university. LOVE it. 

The Cat in the Hat- Dr Seuss

The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson-BurnettAnd saw a theatre adaptation. 

The Diary of a Young Girl- Anne Frank – Read after the age of 16. 

The Twits – Roald Dahl

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne – Another book I’ve read, but it too was released after my 16th birthday

Anne of Green Gables- L.M.Montgomery

The Tiger Who Came to Tea- Judith Kerr

Green Eggs and Ham-Dr Seuss

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Bambi- Felix Selten

Tom’s Midnight Garden- Phillipa Pearce – I knew the story but didn’t read the book until I was studying a children’s literature module at university

Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder

Funny Bones- Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Where The Wild Things Are- Maurice Sendak

Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon – Read but again it was released after my 16th birthday. Would love to see the London theatre version as well. 

The Magician’s Nephew- C.S. Lewis

The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman

The Story of Doctor Dolittle- Hugh Lofting

The Story of Tracy Beaker – Jacqueline Wilson

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Curious George- H.A.Ray

Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet and Allan Ahlberg 
This is an awesome list. Ok, there is a minor flaw that some books were published after my 16ty birthday; it serves as a pretty good reading list. It’s definitely a list I will be sharing with my students at school. 

Books I’ve read: 32, 22 by the age of 16. Not bad going! 
What about you? I’d love to know! 

Have a great week everyone! 

Big love xx

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Filed under Books, Children's Literature

The NY By The Book Tag 

Hey everyone! 

Hope you’re having a restful Sunday. Today I’m going to take part in a tag. I’ve not done one for a while and I’m in a bit of a reading slump, so I figured this may help me out of it! 

I was tagged by the lovely Michelle @ Book Adventures to take part in this tag. I’m so pleased because I’ve never heard of it and I know very little about it. So, thank you very much for thinking about me! It originated here

There’s some really awesome bookish questions, so I’m really looking forward to taking part and tagging some of my lovely blogging friends. Let’s go! 


What book is on your nightstand now? 

I currently have two books by my bed that I’m reading. One of for pleasure and one is for work. The book I am reading for pleasure is really funny. It’s Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe. It is packed full of hilarious letters about working as a nanny and moving to London. I also, rather superficially, adore the cover. 

The book I’m reading for work is called The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook by Jim Smith. Don’t worry, it’s not as it sounds. It’s about enabling students to learn more whilst the teacher does less. I’ve had a right bee in my bonnet recently because I feel like I’m working harder than my students. This has handy little tweaks that I can use in my own lessons to enable students to learn without them noticing. Clever huh?! 



What was the last truly great book you’ve read? 

I’ve read loads of amazing books, but the first book that came to my mind when I read this question was The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine. This is the second book in this series and it’s just as good as the first. I was completely hooked. Also, the cover is just as beautiful too. 



If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?

The Potterhead in me naturally wishes to meet J.K. Rowling. However, I’d love to have a chat with Oscar Wilde. I adore him and his plays are ridiculously funny. I’d ask him if he had any regrets and why he stayed with the brute that was Lord Alfred Douglas. 



What books might we be surprised to find on your shelf?

Hmmm I don’t know really. I’m a bit of a book hoarder so I have all kinds of books. Maybe this big book on Queen Victoria? You may/may not know I’m not a massive fan of history fiction/non fiction. It’s a bit of a surprise to me it’s on my shelf. I haven’t read it but I’d like to one day. 



How do you organize your personal library?

There is a real art to organising book shelves I honestly think. So, I have all my pretty Folio Society books on the top shelf, with hardbacks I love. Then,  the other shelves are books I’d like to read at some point. There’s A LOT. Occasionally there’s a pile of books for the charity shop because I have read them in so long, or I’ve read them and knew I wouldn’t read them again. 

 

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet?

I’ve always meant to read Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. I’ve avoided all TV and film versions, but then I kind of forgot about it. It’s only back in my head because an extract was used in a sample exam paper. I must crack on with reading this, one day. 



Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you are supposed to like but didn’t?

There was loads of hype about John Green’s Paper Towns. But, this just wasn’t for me. The characters made me feel so mad. It completed fell short for me. I expected so much more. I didn’t find it ‘profoundly moving’ either. 



What kind of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

I’ll read anything, or at least give something a go. Nevertheless, I’m not a fan of science fiction or anything like that. It plays on my mind and I end up having weird dreams. It’s not for me at all. I’m drawn to novels that evoke strong emotions from me, whether it’s happiness or tears. Childhood memories always equal the Harry Potter series. 



If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

It would definitely have be To Kill A Mockingbird. This book is so profound and moving. It’s also a message to us all, one that will live on forever. A more modern text that I think the president should read is The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra. It’s a cracking little book. 




What do you plan to read next?

Well, after I’ve finished Love, Nina and my handbook for work, I’m going to be reading The Awakening of Miss Prim. I don’t know very much about this book, but I love the cover. I am always a bit wary of blurbs because they can be very misleading. However, this sounds very interesting. It is my next read! 

So, thank you again Michelle for tagging me. I’ve loved taking part in this and I’m feeling like I’m progressing out of my reading slump. 

Time to spread the love….

I’m tagging:

Amy
Claire
Liam
Analee
Joey
Nicola
Book Club Mom
Jess
Ashley
Arec
Jane
Melanie
Sarah & Faith
Sammie
Emily
& you if you wish! Feel free to ignore if it’s not your thing. 

Big love to you all xxx

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A Bookish Place

Hey everyone!

I’ve been on another exploration this week, this time with a book focus! I took a little trip to Hay-on-Wye with my lovely dad. It’s a little tradition we have, for the past three years anyway, to go and mooch about. He found out about this place because he knows how much I love books. It’s very special to me because of the memories I have made there. As I know there are a number of book lovers out there, I wanted to share this little place with you. 

Where is it?

Hay-on-Wye is just over the Welsh/English border. It’s a beautiful drive in via the scenic route, as there is luscious green everywhere. Even the car park is perched in front of beautiful scenery. 


What makes it so special? 

Everyone here is very friendly and the majority share a common interest: books. There are a huge variety of quirky little independent book shops. Some span over 3/4 floors. There are literally thousands of books, everywhere. 

Boz Books – This appealed to me because it’s a 19th century book shop. As a massive lover of Victorian Literature, I love going in to see all the cloth bound Dickens that line the shelves. There are other writers and time periods here. I managed to pick up a lovely boxed copy of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. 

Addyman Books – Firstly, I love the building with the painted window outside. I bought a number of books from here, some I’ve never even heard of. This is the place I go to to find something different. Don’t be deceived by the outside. It’s huge shop! One of my favourite parts is this lovely reading room. I could definitely see myself sitting there engrossed in a good book. 


Murder and Mayhem – The outside of the shop always catches my eye. I think it is brilliant. A shop dedicated to a specific genre only is a brave and rare thing. Also, I love the little cat sitting at the bottom on the right. 


Richard Booth Bookshop – This bookshop is actually my Dad’s favourite in Hay-on-Wye. It’s where we go normally to buy beautiful copies of Folio Society Books. We always leave with one each. Again, it’s another quirky yet beautiful building. I particularly like the animal tiles down the sides. 


There are books on absolutely everything here. The Folio Society books were a little more difficult to get to because of an art display for the Hay-on-Wye festival. It was very interesting actually, but the part that caught my attention the most was the ‘Idiot Compression’. You can see part of it in the image above. In a nutshell, it consists of hundreds of sections of books cut into the spine. These parts can still be opened and read, but the meaning is irretrievably lost. Each part is around 20% of the original. This is to bring to mind the widely accepted idea that we only use 20% of our brain, and maybe only retain 20% of any reading. 

That statistic shocked me a great deal actually. Think about how much we all read, and to only retain a small amount seems a real shame. However, I do think this is quite a realistic percentage. Hmmmm. More thought needed I think. Nevertheless, it was visually stunning. More information here.



What I left with: 

Needless to say, I bought a lot. But, I wanted to get a range of books by different authors from different genres. I miss learning about new authors, so I tried to find books I’ve either never read but wanted to, or books I knew nothing about. I’m looking forward to read The Tale of Beatrix Potter being as it’s been 150 years since her birth this year. 


That’s it! Hay, you’ve been amazing as ever. My purse was much lighter by the end of the day, but my book collection (obsession?) has been increased again. 

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Big love xx

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Filed under Books, Days Out, Photography, Reading

The Top 20 Most Read School Books

Hey guys! 
I apologise for vanishing recently. Exam season is well underway, but, there’s only one English exam left. There’s nothing much else I can do on that front, but I am avoiding the fact that I have a 12 mile sponsored walk on Friday… So, whilst I had a spare five minutes I stumbled across this list of the Top 20 Most Read School Books. I saw this on the Independent website. (Top 20 Most Read School Books) This is a really interesting list. 

2000 adults were asked their favourite books from school. Thus, this list was created. 

As an English teacher, these sorts of lists really interest me. Also, there’s always a lot of talk about specific texts that all children should be reading and studying at school. In the UK everything has changed again recently regarding what should be studied for GCSE and A Level and there are new texts that we need to cover. I only wonder what this list will be like in 5 or 10 years time. 

I wanted to take this time to discuss these books and when I first experienced them. I’m really interested to see your relationships with these books too. 


The Top 20 Most Read School Books:

1. Animal Farm – George Orwell

I first read Animal Farm 3 years ago and wondered what it was really all about. I didn’t get it. I studied Russian history for A Level and that truly confused me. There were so many names to remember! But, on my next reading I saw what the fuss was really about. It’s a gripping and quite a challenging read. It’s a book that makes me feel so sad actually. 



2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Oh boy I love this book. I love love love it. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s also slightly heartbreaking. It contains some of the most prolific characters in fiction. I have no idea when I first read this, but I always recommend it for people to read. 

3. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Confession time… I’ve never read this book. It is on my TBR pile (along with 54298274657 others…) However, I have a feeling I’ll need to read this book this summer as its on our Year 7 schemes of work! I also have to confess I don’t know too much about it. *hangs head in shame*

4. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This has to be one of my favourite books ever. I’ve loved teaching it earlier this year as well. It’s a huge shame that it’s been cut from all of the GCSE specifications. I genuinely believe that this is one of those books that everyone needs to read. You learn something from it each time you read it. I first read this as a fresh faced 15 year old at school. I can remember how I felt at the time. I can’t believe this book has been a part of my life for 10 years. 

5. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontè

Now I came to read this book as an A level student and my mind was blown. I found it really difficult to understand who was narrating when. I had to write it at the top of every chapter. Once you get past the complexity, you get carried away with the plot. I can never think of this book without thinking of Kate Bush…

6. Macbeth – William Shakespeare

I’m on a bit of a Macbeth overload at the minute because I’m teaching it to 3 classes! But, there is a reason as to why it is so popular. It’s just as popular today as it was in Shakespearean times. Lady Macbeth is one of my favourite all time female characters. She’s absolutely fascinating. 

7. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare 

Ahhh Rom & Jules. My year 11s had their exam on this today. Just like them, this was a text I studied for my GCSEs. Everyone wants to meet their great love in their lives. I certainly did when I first read this. The Leonardo Di Caprio film certainly helped! I’m not sure on this great love thing now. Hmmm. Anyway, another classic that will probably outlive us all. 

8. A Midsummer’s Night Dream – William Shakespeare

I’m loving the amount of Shakespeare here. I realise it’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. However, this play is a lot of fun. It’s one that I came to much later in life, probably around 3 years ago. I saw a production in Stratford and it was magical. It contains one of my favourite quotes too: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” 

9. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck 

Another amazing novel and also the second part to my lovely year 11s exam today. It’s utterly devastating. It’s exploration of hope and dreams, friendship and trials it’s so detailed for such a little novel. The ending always makes me cry. Emotional times right there…

10. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

I remember reading this as a little girl. I picked it up in a book shop because it had my name on it. However, I remember feeling ridiculously scared when the spider came along. Varied memories for this one really! I was young though and I’ve not read it since. I do think I’ll read this again someday. It’s an interesting one on the list I think! 

11. Dracula – Bram Stoker 

Oh dear. I’m really not so good with scary books and for me this was terrifying! I read it for the first time last year (avoided it at university) as I was teaching it! It was awful. Thankfully my class were amazing and listened to my nightmares based on this book. They seemed to enjoy it though which is the main thing. It just isn’t my kind of book. I really don’t want to teach or read this again! 

12. An Inspector Calls – J.B. Priestley

Oh wow this little play is absolutely cracking. I LOVE it. I really need to see it on stage. I only discovered this a few years ago and it just left me thinking “WHAT?!” So I read it again. I’ve loved teaching it as well. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough. It will literally keep you on the edge of your seat. 

13. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Frankenstein was on one of my reading lists at university. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t even heard of it! But, what I find fascinating is that this is written by a woman during a very masculine era. Again, I would say this is quite scary because of what it stands for. I’ll be teaching this next year so I need to re-read this again! 

14. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy 

Now… Another confession. I’ve never completely read all of this book. I’ve tried a number of times but it’s always defeated me! I’m a huge Hardy fan. It takes me back to my A levels, but this one just may be a little out of my zone. I will get there one day. I just think you have to be in a particular mood to read this. Maybe I’m just not smart enough! Haha. 

15. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

Another book I’ve started and not finished. I think I started this athe wrong time. Not got too much to say, but maybe I’ll read it? I could do with knowing more about it really! Let me know what it’s about if you know. 

16. The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald

Oh I love this book. It’s one of my all time favourites. It’s amazing. If I’m ever in a bit of a reading slump I always turn to this book. It’s a healer. It makes me feel a whole host of emotions from love to rage and everything in between. I love the closing lines too: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.” You just can’t beat it. 

17. Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare 

I’m loving the amount of Shakespeare on this list I have to say. This isn’t one of the plays that stands out as being most popular to me really, but, it has its own merits of course. It’s not my favourite and it isn’t one I’d rush to see. I’ve read it but I can’t remember too much about it. I guess that says it all really…



18. The Colour Purple – Alice Walker 

Oh this upsets me so much. I’ve never been able to finish it. I’ve tried to read this so many time and I’ve always failed. I just find it so sad. It’s a really sensitive novel by a fantastic writer. I do feel like a bit of a failure for not finishing it. I genuinely will try to at some point in my life. 

19. Journey’s End – R.C. Sherrif 

Another book I’ve never read, but my best friend has. The other English group to mine when I was in school studied this book and my group studied TKAM. I remember her complaining…but all teenagers do! The war setting will probably make me very emotional, but I will give it a go one day. Again, anyone who knows anything about this, let me know! 



20. Others – miscellaneous. 

‘Others’ got 20.7% of the vote, yet it’s not exactly specified which book that is. I’ve no idea what this means! I wish we were told… There could be a number of options here. What about Hamlet? Or a more modern text: Holes? I guess this one is up to us! 

In summary:

  • I’ve read 14 out of the 20 
  • I’ve attempted 3 out of the 20
  • I plan to read the remaining 5

What about you? What did you love when you were at school? I feel so lucky that some of these books have been a part of my life for 10 or more years. It’s really unbelievable. Yet, I’ve learned there’s always something to be read. The TBR list really is never ending. 

Have a great evening all! 

Big love xx

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