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A Giant Spectacular Finale (and Hitting The Headlines)

And so the festival is officially over and what a finale we had, and I don’t mean the one last week where I ended up getting so drunk I staying in a hotel in my own city. The finale of the IFB2014 was the return of The Giants. If you think I am overtired and hallucinating, or still drunk, I swear to you I am telling the truth!

You may not remember but back way back when I first met the Beard and was doing the whole dating thing and thinking about moving to Liverpool we accidentally ended up crossing the path, or ripples, of the Giants that came and conquered the city before sailing away. Well it was a huge success for the city at the time and so Culture Liverpool, who since that fateful boat trip I only went and worked for and now work for the sister company of, brought them back again. Little (no pun intended) did the project team realise how close we would get, even though we knew they were passing and had our sandwiches at the ready, or that one of us might end up in the headlines of the Liverpool Echo (guess who?)…

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So as you can see above we were all ready and waiting with eager anticipation for the Granny Giant to arrive. Soon enough the crowds started to build and build and sure enough she arrived…

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If I am being 100% honest, I had forgotten how brilliant the giants were the first time they came (then too I was a bit nonchalant about it all) yet once I could see her, see the way the crowd was loving following her the buzz of excitement started to build and build as she came nearer. As it turned ut we had some of the best seats in the city…

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Here I should stipulate that I don’t really understand what the story for the giants was, and I read the flyer, but they had come from beyond the Milky Way and were here to commemorate the anniversary of WWI. It does sound bonkers I understand, but it worked brilliantly. As she stood below us she started to read letters from those who had been in the war or those who had written to them. It was very moving.

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Now as I was saying as it went on the excitement and emotion just sent us all a bit giddy and we couldn’t help but try and get a picture with the giants, and indeed some of us resorted to selfies…

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What I didn’t expect was for my selfie to end up in the Liverpool Echo as one of the images from the first day of the Giants visit, but it did as you can see here. My fifteen minutes of fame right there. However at the time we didn’t know this and what was interesting was as she slowly headed past us and off to find her granddaughter and her dog you really felt sad to see her leave…

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The other thing it made me feel was immensely proud. Not just of the festival I have worked on this city and the people I have worked with, which goes without saying as it and they have been amazing. I also felt extremely proud of this city, Liverpool, and the people who go the extra mile to make it a vibrant place bringing new people in but also putting on a bloody good show for the people who live here. I feel honoured that I am an honorary Liverpudlian, of sorts.

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To get more of the effect of the giants, their story and see how amazing the logistics of them (and all the man power with her crane and all the people who move her limbs swinging up in the air – which you soon stop seeing bizarrely) then do watch the video below. It is quite inspiring. I can’t wait for them to come back. What a brilliant way to end the festival too.

Anyway I thought I would share that with you all as some of you mentioned, when I asked you to ask me anything and make suggestions which I will answer all the questions from when I am back from my trip away, that you would like to see more posts about random things I get up to off blog. I think encountering giants and making the headlines will do won’t it?

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In Case You Were Wondering What My Day Job Entails…

I am one of the small project team who make big things like this happen…

It is all over now though. I am feeling a mixture of very proud, emotional, nostalgic and knackered. Thank goodness August has two big holidays lined up for me!

 

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Questions & Suggestions

Today is the last day of the International Festival for Business 2014 which is the project that has been taking up all of my time in the last few months with lots of events and all those shenanigans. It has been a blast and tonight we will be celebrating and getting merry in grand style – to the point where I am staying in a hotel in my own city as I think I may end up rather a mess! Anyway, as the festival ends the questions begin on how everything has gone and the suggestions of what might happen next time (it is coming back in 2016, though none of us know as yet if we are) start. This made me wonder if I should do something similar with the blog…

Recently Annabel of Annabel’s House of Books, inspired by Simon of Stuck In A Book doing it first, decided she would be brave and ask her followers/readers/passers-by to ask her anything they wanted. It didn’t have to be about books it could be about absolutely anything. I couldn’t find Simon’s original post but his answers are here and Annabel’s are here and here and they make for really interesting reading. So I thought I would hop on this idea, only giving it a slight twist…

Question mark of books

So, you can ask me anything you like (be it about books, kittens, chemical biology, ha, whatever you like) and, as long as it is within reason, I will take all the questions away have a think over them and answer them in a post in the next few weeks. I would also really, really, really like you to make some suggestions. Firstly, I would like you to suggest new things, or old things I could bring back, which you would like to see on the blog. Secondly, I would love some suggestions of any topics you would like me to waffle on about on the blog or features you might like to see.

I may choose to ignore them, I may use them all, as is my want but what I will say is that anyone who asks and question and/or makes a suggestion will be put into a hat and The Beard will draw two (or three if there are lots) of you out of the hat and a bookish parcel will wing its way out to you for your efforts. How does that sound, get asking and suggesting away…

 

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Word Crimes…

Very quick post as it has been the last full week of the festival I am working on so I have been a bit slack, again. Sorry. Anyway. I wanted to share a video with you which I think anyone who loves books and words will just love…

Isn’t that just brilliant? My lovely colleague Kelly told me about it, she would be furious if  had claimed I found it all myself – which was tempting. I thought you would all like it. Erm, that’s it for today, I will be back with a very book filled post tomorrow… In the mean time what is your biggest word crime? Mine is the numbers instead of letters disgrace!

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Banished To Room 101…

This post, stealing from the episode of The Readers it is inspired/regurgitated from, was going to have the tagline/subtitle ‘Where Bad Bookish Bits Are Banished…’ which seemed a bit dramatic but does actually describe the very essence of what today’s post (which I have been meaning to write for about five weeks) is all about. The bookish bits and bobs which really get on our nerves and we would love to see banished into Room 101, which of course comes from that great novel 1984 by Mr George Orwell. A place where your worst, in this case bookish, fears are hidden away.


So I thought what I would do is share my top five most disliked bookish bits and bobs, the ones that if I could I would have banished from books and my booky lifestyle, then maybe you can all share some of yours too. It’s like playing god really which is something I wouldn’t mind once in a while. Anyway, without further ado and waffle here are the things I would send to the depths in reverse order…

5. Indented or Italic Speech – One of the things that makes me inwardly groan when I read a book is when it comes to a character speaking and instead of simply putting the speech in speech marks, which would seem the normal and proper thing to do, someone up above in the publishing house (or even the author) has decided that this is an outdated form and they can do better… with indents or italics. With indents I just get pissed off because it looks really cheap and almost as if no one could be bothered to do a ‘ and thought a – was much more hipster and modern. Don’t even get me started on italics, they offend my eyes even more – quite literally as they make me feel I have gone out of focus.

4. No Chapters/Excessive Paragraphs – Now like the above this isn’t a complete killer, it just frustrates me. Well in the case of no chapters it frustrates me. You see I am one of those annoying people who like to know when the next chapter ends to see how many pages I have left that I can squeeze in a random ten minutes, quick bus journey, trip to the loo (oh come on we all do it) etc. I worry and get a bit stabby otherwise. Worst case scenario I will find a page that ends in a full stop, where I can fully stop. Excessive paragraphs oddly offend me more, and don’t even suggest books with no paragraphs because it makes me feel quite faint. Unless it is stylistic (I did read a book that was one single sentence – the whole thing – and rather enjoyed it) then it just comes across as an author loving the sound of their own voice/prose a little too much.

3. #AmWriting – Speaking of authors this hashtag on Twitter infuriates me, almost to the point of blocking. Now I know that really this isn’t in books, but it is by the people who write them and honestly I just cannot stand it. We know you are writers, we often love that you are, but how about saying ‘I am doing some really interesting research for my new book’ which is quite conversational? Imagine if everyone online hashtagged their jobs #AmFixingBrains #AmUnblockingToilets #AmRobbingYourHouse You aren’t writing, you are tweeting, you are clearly bored or feeling like you need some attention. Just write the book.

Now the top two offenders…

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No not Dan Brown…

2. Stickers on Books – Who thought this was a good idea? Ever? You go to a bookshop buy a lovely new book, go home, peel the sticker off and either a) it leaves a sticky residue for any old fluff to get stuck on or the other book you bought when they both go on your TBR together b) tears a bit of the cover of so you are hastening to stick it on the bloody book again c) takes of the lacquer leaving a dull sticker shaped mark. In charity shops with old books it’s even worse, they are apocalypse lasting stickers. They tear, they tug, they leave a mess. Ugh. Oh and some charity shops pop them on the first page – ARE YOU MAD? #AmStoppingStickersOnBooksNow

dogeared pages

1. Cracking Spines/Dog Earing Pages/Writing in Books – I call this book butchery. I can understand if you are at school writing in a book might be plausible, but don’t you have an exercise book? This should go into adulthood. I love keeping notes on books, in fact to write a decent review I need to keep notes. I have book notebooks for this. Dog earing pages just makes me ponder why? After all bookmarks, beautiful items they can be, were invented for a reason. No bookmark? Try a ticket, a piece of tissue, your tie… ANYTHING other than dog earing. Library books seem to get this the worst which offends me more… it’s a public book! Cracking spines? Well why don’t you just stamp on my heart, the book is screaming, how would you like it if someone cracked your spine. These three all link into why I never lend people books, the fact this may happen makes me have night sweats. Yes, I am one of those people whose shelves you look at and ponder if I have actually read them… I have and I am proud they are pretty much perfect.

So those are my top five, for all of my Room 101 rants (and there were a few more) aswell as the lovely Thomas Otto of My Porch’s you can listen to this episode of The Readers. What I would love to know are which bookish things drive you insane, bookish crimes if you will, and why? What would you send to Room 101?

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Rollercoaster Reads…

Rollercoasters have been on my brain rather a lot in the last week. Firstly (and I don’t mean to go on about it) because work has been a real rollercoaster of highs, lows and extremes. Has anyone else noticed that when you are doing 12+ hour days for a few weeks, dreaming about work restlessly all night and then having the small pressure of making a listed building the perfect venue for some high profile businesses, clients and guests that you go a little bit hysterical? And breathe. I am loving it but this weekend I decided I needed to get away from it all and go a little bit bonkers throwing caution to the wind (literally) and so I headed on the train to Blackpool and its Pleasure Beach which is brimming with rollercoasters and their thrills and spills. Amazingly whilst whizzing round them at three times g-force, or something, I thought about books.

Rollercoasters

This is funnily enough called ‘The Big One’. We of course screamed throughout.

No really, let me explain… There is something delicious, and also rather perverse I suppose, in rollercoasters that is kind of like reading.  You are completely out of control, probably out of your comfort zone, yet you are also in safe hands. Let me tell you some of these rollercoasters are so slick and comfortable it is nicer than riding first class on a train, apart from the speed and possible steep drops or upside down spins and loops hopefully.  Before you start a book you have that slight trepidation of if you will enjoy it and it be worth the time, though with a rollercoaster the ride only lasts 90 seconds max (though queues may last an hour) rather than several days/weeks. Also like books, as you start it you have no idea what you are going to get – unless you look at the POV videos on YouTube and cheat, a bit like turning to the last page maybe – until you get to the end and catch your breath whereupon you feel thrilled/sick/disappointed as illustrated below by myself and my sister who is here on work experience and who I took for a post-GCSE exams treat.

Did we love it, were we thrilled?

Did we love it, were we thrilled?

Basically you go on an escapist journey, hopefully with many ups, downs and thrills and spills on whatever scale. Some people like the full loop the loops, some people like the pink elephants/teacups. The similarity is that you go through something you don’t know if you will enjoy or not but hopefully the outcome is one of a breathless wonderment after whizzing through taking unexpected twists and turns yet with the knowledge (with the perfect books and the perfect authors) that you are in a safe pair of hands even if you are out of control for the duration. Do you know what I mean? Or has the blood whoosed around my head so much I am loop the loop?

So I wondered if you would recommend me your ‘rollercoaster reads’ the one that have really pushed you out of your comfort zone and yet been deftly delivered so the thrills, spill, twists, turns, highs and lows ended up being an utter rush?

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If You Could Be A Character In A Book, Who Would You Be?

I don’t know if you have been following it on Twitter (some of you might not have Twitter, I would urge you to join as it is far more booky than you might imagine) however #bookadayuk has been a daily joy for me. All through the month of June the folks at Borough Press, a new imprint of Harper Collins, have been asking us to tweet pictures of books that match a certain theme. There have been books we have never finished, the best book we have ever found second hand, the books we think everyone else should have read but haven’t, etc, etc. Today they have asked a question that has had me well and truly stumped… Which character in a book would you want to be?

Worryingly after a day of so or thinking about it I couldn’t come up with a single one. You see whilst there may have been many, many, many books which I wish I had been in (as an additional character or a bystander) there are absolutely no characters that I would want to swap places with because if they were my favourites I would rather hang out with them than trade places.

For example in the case of two of my very favourite characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, I wouldn’t want to be either of them but I would give anything and everything to be caught up in an adventure with them physically as I have mentally again and again over the years. The idea of being Holmes (an opium addict who plays my least favourite instrument ever) doesn’t do it to me at all, and neither would being his sidekick, I’ve never wanted to be a doctor and certainly not one in the Victorian period. However, hop into a handsome cab and head through the streets of Victorian London with a game afoot and I would be there with them both in a moment.

It has always been so for me, this isn’t my adult brain trying to be ‘realistic’. As a child I always wanted to be the best friend of Mildred Hubble aka The Worst Witch and share a dorm with her and Tabby. I wanted the Famous Five to be the Stupendous Six. I wanted to live in Whitby and be part of uncovering a gang of witches up to no good. I wanted to befriend Matilda in the library or be Miss Honey’s nephew who would visit. I never wanted to be a character, just join in as I was doing vicariously turning the pages and getting lost in the world.

Today though I am feeling like it is just me as I have seen people over and over mentioning characters they would like to be, so I thought I would share this thought with all of you and see if it is just me that is the freak or if any of you would rather be an addition character in a book rather than trading places with one (if you would like to swap places with a character the don’t be shy and share with us who it is) and being a part of the world the book creates?

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Sometimes You Don’t Want to Read or Blog…

…You just want to take the neighbours dog for a long leisurely walk around the park after a week of being stuck in a balmy hot and bonkers busy office and just take some time out. And that is alright isn’t it?

Walking the Dog

Don’t worry I am not ill. As I was actually walking with Ann and Michael from Books on the Nightstand discussing books in my ears, I also then came home and recorded an episode of The Readers and am now blogging about it – but you know what I mean. Sometimes you need to tear yourself away from what you are reading (even if your book group is only two days a way and you have only read a chapter of the novel) and just sit on a bench out in the real world people watching (while your canine companion is squirrel watching) and just take in life and the fresh air…

Where is your favourite place to take a break from books and the hustle and bustle of the real world?

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Encouraging Young Writers…

If you are someone who loves books and you think about ‘the youth’ out there we almost instantly think about the young readers and how we can make sure that young people are keen to read as much as they can, we recently even did an episode of The Readers podcast all about it. One thing we don’t seem to think of however is about the young writers out there who hopefully will be writing the classics of the future.

Maybe we don’t like to think about it too much as there is that awful thought that by the time they become literary greats or classics we most likely won’t be reading any more as we will, frankly, be dead. (This post gets much more positive I promise.) But without writers of the future then readers of the future might be a little bit stumped, okay they will have the ‘canon’ of authors yet where will be the contemporary writers and then the future, future, future young readers classics come from? It hurts your head doesn’t it?

You may be wondering what has got me pondering on the subject of future writers, well it’s this…

Candyfloss Clouds 1

Candyfloss Clouds is a book written by young writers and, equally brilliant, it is also a book aimed at young readers. How did I hear about it? Well it happens that this is something that the Beard’s sister in law has been working on it with the young enterprise team at her school and so naturally, being rather a booky bloke, they let me get a copy of it. Before you think shameless plug alert, the books are not on sale online or all over England, just a few select shops in the Chester/Wirral/Liverpool area, I just wanted to mention it because I think young writers writing for young readers seems so right…

Candyfloss Clouds 2

…And of course it made me think. What I didn’t realise is that these young enterprise groups in schools do this quite regularly as I discovered when I spoke to my mother, also a teacher as many of you will know, and she reminded me she had done similar things with kids in her schools too. Yet why do we not hear more about them? I mean with the latest furore about Gove’s changes to the national curriculum for English Literature (and only studying books by English authors) we need more stories like this getting out into the wider world don’t we? What is also brilliant and I can plug is that this group of young enterprise champions have now made it to the final down in London, so should any authors or publishers like to say hello then let me know!

Candyfloss Clouds 3

You see it is projects like this that show that writing, reading and books are by no means dead in the water and we should be celebrating this much more openly I think. Kids like to create and they like to escape and if all schools have ventures where their students are writing books for other students then that’s going to encourage kids to read their mates work and then reach for more books. Seems ideal really doesn’t it?

Do let me know if your kids/relatives/friends children have done similar ventures and how it was received, and most importantly tell me about the books they wrote, the titles, and what the storylines were. If Candyfloss Clouds is anything to go buy I am sure they were highly imaginative, creative and quite likely brilliantly bonkers…

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Summer Reading? Try Books On The Nightstand Bingo!

So Ann and Michael of my favourite book podcast that I am not a host of ha! have come up with a great idea if you are struggling with your summer (or indeed possibly winter if you are down under) reading which I think is brilliant, all sorts of fun and we should all join in with… Because it is based around books you already own, can borrow and may already have in the back of the reading part of your brain to get to ‘at some point’. I am a bit funny about reading challenges – I know, I know I have set myself one recently with shorter fiction but bear with me – however ones that you can work your own TBR or library loan/loanable are always worth a twirl. So what is it… It is only Books on the Nightstand Bingo!

Now in the words of Ann and Michael (who will now know I have had a bit of a BOTNS catch up listen as this is a few weeks old) the way it works is… “Just visit the link below and you’ll see a BOTNS bingo card. HIT REFRESH TO GET A NEW, RANDOM CARD. You will also see a link to print the card. Use this BOTNS Bingo Card in any way you like to enhance your summer reading. You can choose to go after a particular Bingo row and pick the books that fit; you can read as normal and check off books as you read; or write each of your words on a slip of paper and draw randomly, reading until you get Bingo!” How brilliant is that? To give it a whirl follow this link here and join in by pressing refresh to mix them up. I have already and here is mine…

Bingo

I have spent many an hour, while some of the conferences I am event managing have been ‘in session’, mulling over them all and what my options are and it is great fun just playing at working out which books you have which can tick off which square… I am going for FULL HOUSE!!!! In fact I am planning on presenting my card to Ann and Micheal all complete when I see them in Asheville in August – swot much? The one I am really struggling with is middle-grade book… Hmmmm!

So who else fancies giving it a whirl? If you do let me know or share your bingo card someway some how and what you might read to get a line or full house?

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So What Are You All Reading?

Because frankly I am haven’t been reading anything. A week of six days, averaging 16 hours long, of the opening week of the festival and, bar the odd chapter of The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller (which is really making me think about what I read and how I read, so I have been thinking more about books than reading them), I have not really read a thing. I have mainly be running around sorting out event space and the occasional crisis/diva which has been knackering yet perversely fun. I did manage to get to see some sunshine though today as I had a mini treat by being allowed on the roof of the building.

Rooftop

However, this is all going to change as I have a day off tomorrow… woohoo (I may pass out with joy next weekend when I get two days off) and I am planning on just spending the day reading in the garden whilst The Beard builds a shed – I live with someone who doesn’t love books but who loves DIY and is a trained chef, so swings and roundabouts. I cannot wait.

So while I decide what I am going to get back in the swing of reading… What are you all reading at the moment and what else have you read that has been brilliant, as it might give me some inspiration and direction. Let me know!

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The Short & Short Of It Is…

That I meant to write this post on Monday, then again on Tuesday but epically failed on both counts as I was working 12 hour days with no break. Then I meant to post it yesterday, well I actually meant to write a review but the likelihood of writing one of those this week is minimal, but it was a 14 hour day though I did get a break and booked flights to America which was so exciting I told you about that instead. So what is the short and short of it really? Well it is that I have started to get on with my Summer of Shorts.

As things look like they will be bonkers with the festival I am working on until the end of July, as I mentioned before, reading time – and spare time full stop – will be scarce and so I am going to read short fiction ideal to keep me gripped and dipping in and out of reading throughout the summer months. The first five I have chosen for the unofficial opening week (every week I will pick five short books or collections at random) are these…

Shorts

A nice mixture I think you will agree. Now I have to admit since Monday morning, when I picked them with hope in my heart that was soon to be short (see what I did there) lived, I have not read a word of any of them though two of them have been in my man bag at all times. But I am still hoping to get to one of them, or two, at least before my one day weekend on Sunday. I shall try.

So I just thought I would keep you updated and once again ask if you have any short recommendations or see if any of you fancy joining in with a short summer challenge? Do any of you have any summer reading plans yet? Have you read any of the above and what did you think of them? I will leave it there for now, a short(ish), sharp, sweet post from me.

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Watch Out USA, I’m Coming Your Way…

After much organisation, faffing, missing out on the right flights, then being unable to book the next-right ones and then sitting in a dejected mess because my bank thought I was a fraudster – I can now confirm that I am officially booked, signed, sealed and everything for a trip to the USA in August. And what a trip it is going to be…

First up I am heading, via Munich and Chicago oddly, to Asheville in North Carolina where (and I am start struck already) I will be spending a long weekend at one of the Booktopia’s which Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, of the marvellous Books on the Nightstand Podcast, organise every year around America. The itinerary looks marvellous and I have been reliably informed I may just be mentoring an event with Anthony Marra (of whose A Constellation of Vital Phenomena I was all over) which gain is just too exciting, in fact so exciting it is almost untrue. Ann, Michael and myself may even make time to record a special edition of The Readers!

Speaking of The Readers, once the Booktopia weekend is over the blues I am sure to feel will fly away (quite literally) as I then head to stay with my lovely co-host and unofficial travel agent Thomas in Washington for a few days. This I am imaging will involve some touristy sightseeing, book hunting and lying down by the pool rather a lot, all with lashings of bookish banter. Again, I am excited and beyond about this.


Then, because I won’t have done quite enough travelling, I am off to New York for a while where I am going to be doing more (slightly secretive) bookish stuff and wandering around being a tourist before I fly home at the beginning of September… Phew!

I have just realised I haven’t booked in a theme park on this trip and American theme parks are the best! DratsI Anyway… So if you are in any of these places; Asheville, Washington or NYC then do let me know. I am planning on packing Gone With The Wind (it is almost North Carolina, no?) for the long flights and the seven hours in Chicago airport on the way but as always if you have some recommendations for books set in Asheville, Washington or NYC I would be thrilled to get some ideas, or indeed for any of the ‘Great American Novels’ I have yet to read…

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Diary of a (Possibly Crazy) Book Culler & Sorter…

I know I promised that Other People’s Bookshelves would come back this week… Well, I lied. Okay, I didn’t intentionally lie but I changed my mind which is my prerogative and my whim, ha! However this post is in keeping with the bookshelves theme as I thought I would share a book shelf crazed day with you all, one that followed an indecent which I can almost can guarantee you will all have been through! A few weeks ago I told you I was at that time when you have simply run out of bookshelves. You ponder if you should get rid of books, or just get more bookshelves? That was the nightmare inducing situation I told you all about, made all the worse by the fact Ikea had stopped stocking Expedit replacing it for Kallax. But I made do… until the next morning when I woke at 6.30am thinking about the fact my shelves didn’t match.

Shelves 2

6.45am – Still really thinking about the fact that the shelves don’t match.

7am – No it’s fine you can’t tell from the side, I can live with this.

7.30am – No I can tell. This will only get worse when I open the curtains and see it in its full horror.

8am – No it will be fine, who will see these shelves in the bedroom anyway? Shelves are just for storage, what difference does half an inch make (insert your own crude joke here) I am just being a silly billy and it will be fine.

8.20am – Oh sweet jesus! It is upsetting my eyes, The Beard has brought tea and marmite on toast and opened the curtains and I am inwardly screaming at the shelves. I can see them, I can see them, I can see them. They don’t match!!!

8.26am – Post tea sipping I casually ask The Beard what he thinks of the shelves? Can he tell they don’t match? Pause. ‘Yes, I can tell but it doesn’t matter does it?’ I act nonchalant and return to my book, the mismatched shelves sneering at me over the top of the pages in full eye line.

8.28am – The Beard is still staring at the shelves.

8.32am – The Beard announces ‘Those shelves really don’t match do they?’ I want to scream that I KNOW THEY DON’T MATCH. I smile and say ‘No, not really. Not ideal but nevermind’ whilst wanting to weep.

8.43am – I look at The Beard ‘I am really sorry… but I can’t cope with those shelves.’

8.44am – Silence.

8.45am –  Me: ‘Erm, I still can’t cope with those shelves. I might need to get some more and re-arrange the room… What do you think?’

8.46am – Silence.

8.47am – The Beard ‘Okay.’ Silence follows.

8.56am – Me: ‘What time does Ikea open today?’ The Beard internally and externally winces.

9.06am – I have been staring at The Beard for ten minutes. The Beard gets up throws on some clothes and says ‘ I am going now. I will get you shelves, I will build you shelves, then I want to garden and be left alone. You are not coming with me, you will want to do the whole shop again, you will want meatballs for lunch and bring home more cacti. Ok?’ I stay silent because I know all this is true.

9.07 am – ‘I am leaving now, I will be back at 11 when all books should be off the shelves ready for moving them.’ The Beard leaves.

9.37am – I am still staring resentfully at the shelves.

10.55am – The Beard hasn’t returned and I have not moved any books.

11.05am – I start moving books.

4

11.23 The Beard is back and needs to build shelves and use the space on the floor I have filled with books when the bed wouldn’t hold anymore. I want to scream but smile sweetly and move them.

11.30am – More shelves start to be built.

5

11.50am – The Beard is building more shelves and wants to know why I am sat watching him on my reading chair with a coffee. I tell him he doesn’t understand how hard moving books is. The Beard responds with some comment about ‘…if you didn’t have so many books’ which I block out and stare at the books instead noticing a few books I am not sure I was aware I had and don’t actually think I will read.

11.51am – I decide this will be a cull as well as a sorting.

11.53 – I decide I need another coffee to think this all through. The Beard carries on building shelves.

6

11.54am – The Beard wants me to stop taking pictures and actually get on with it, I sigh, he doesn’t understand bibliophiles or the chance to make a potentially funny blog post at some point.

12.07pm – I have now taken all books off all the shelves that were in the room when I awoke. I have used the new shelves The Beard has built to house the books I took off, along with most of the floor. I am confused and cant really move, or move the old shelves. I feel vexed.

12.39pm – The Beard and I aren’t speaking, we had a row about the fact that there was no room to move the shelves.

13.02pm – We have moved the shelves, hoorah. I load the books on the first two and then we add the third… and realise that the way we have done it means they don’t match.

2

13.03pm We are practically back to square one. I get ‘the look’. I give ‘the other look’ back silently taking all the books off again.

13.19pm – We have managed it! The shelves all look like they are meant to be, in this corner at least but I don’t think about those other shelves for now as I am on the edge…

7

13.21pm – Now it is time to reward ourselves with lunch.

14.07pm – Having procrastinated by watching an episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race (it is amazing) with lunch I go back to the bedroom.

14.08pm – I want to cry because the room is in devastation. I have too many books, I hate books, I want to burn them all, I will never read most of them anyway…

8

14.09pm I get a grip. It is time to sort these books and these shelves out once and for all.

14.32pm – I have just spent the last however many minutes making a play list of ‘podcasts and tunes I can sort books to’, I haven’t sorted any books but I will.

15.12pm – I have sorted about three rows of shelves out trying to do them in ‘themes or genres’ then this makes me cross. I start again.

16.42pm – I have sorted books by when they have been released or are going to be released. The mismatch of sizes mixing is bothering me.

17.03pm – I start again.

17.33pm – I give up and go and do some other shelves instead, the smaller ones.

18.32pm – I have made sense of the shelves in the corner by my side of the bed.

9

18.45pm – Is it annoying me that these shelves and my actual bedside shelves don’t match?

18.49pm – I am told to get a wriggle on as dinner will be ready in twenty minutes.

20.06pm – After dinner, and possibly more Ru Paul (it is addictive guys!) I get cracking…

21.11pm – I am done! I have sorted all my shelves out and impressively whittled out 53 books that will find loving new homes. I feel like I am king of the world and a bit smug.

10

21.13pm – I show The Beard my hard work.

21.14pm – The Beard comments that ‘you haven’t even touched those books in the boxes on the other side of the wardrobe have you?’ Silence.

21.15pm – The Beard then says ‘if you didn’t have so many books this wouldn’t have had to happen and maybe you should consider a one book in one book out rule.’ I consider violence, I simply glare instead.

21.16pm – I consider moving out.

21.17pm – I realise that would involve moving all these books and all these shelves again. I smile sweetly and go and eat my feelings via the medium of chocolate instead, simply thinking ‘as if, there’s still space for more shelves…’

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