Tag Archives: Random Savidgeness

A Visit to Manchester Central Library…

I can’t work out if it I in America all over or just parts of it this week, but I do believe that this week might (important word to cover myself if I feel an utter fool when I discover it isn’t at all) be National Libraries Week – something I think we should bring over to the UK as a single day simply isn’t enough and a week really gets in the consciousness.  Anyway, back off my soapbox, I thought if this was the case it would be nice to share a little trip I made around the all newly revamped Manchester Central Library a few weeks ago.

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I didn’t really know what to expect and as libraries are such wonderful things I was hoping it would be amazing, I wasn’t disappointed so knowing you all love books and the places that home them I thought I would share.

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What I think is wonderful about renovated libraries is when they are modernised and yet have the history and the old sense of a library, as I think Liverpool Central Library does. Manchester council were clearly on a similar wave length as you have the wonderful old features like the stain glassed windows and wooden beams (above) and then you walk into something that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi movie set in the future.

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It is done again when you look through the clear glass into the wonderful archives brimming with hidden treasures…

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Or when you are wandering around the thoroughly modern exhibition, café and seating area and find gems of the old library still being used amongst the new.

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Note – I want one of those old archiving files in my house, just saying. It also carries on as you head up to the top floor, the modern architecture meeting the new and somehow, brilliantly, feeling like they were always meant to work together…

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I think on of my favourite classic meets modern designs was on the top floor where you find all the reference books and the shelves, which run on a track, meaning much more space, have been given these wonderful new case covers that stop it looking like some old nuclear bunker, which sadly can be a look in the library world…

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The other thing I loved about it was how light and airy it was, come on, don’t tell me you couldn’t spend hours sat reading in here? I was pretty much ready to move in.

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Now there is a proper library down in the basement, which is again marvellously light, where all the new books of contemporary and classic fiction sit side by side, non fiction, travel etc all waiting in the wings and you can go and borrow books which is most important of course…

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Yet for me the most astounding room was the main Reading Room which I am slightly obsessed with.

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If ever I am in Manchester you know where to find me, spending a few hours with a book or just sitting people watching and taking in the atmosphere of the place. Marvellous.

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It feels like the heart of the place, not just because it is the dead centre and the centre circle of the building, but because you look around and think ‘wow, all these people are using it again, after all those generations before them’ and it seems to highlight exactly why libraries are so important and why we need to keep them, and as many as possible, forever.

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It was a wonderful trip and I think I spent about three hours just wandering, not even picking up a book. I should add that the whole time I lived in Manchester this building was the biggest tease in the city. It was closed the whole time but looked so marvellous from the outside and so, so tempting. So it is lovely to see it up and running. Manchester you are very lucky, though I know I am exceptionally lucky having the Liverpool Central Library down the road – I haven’t forgotten.

What do you make of this renovation? Which is your favourite library, where is it and why do you love it so?

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Aaaaaaaaaaargh, There Are Just Too Many Books…

Is it just me or do any of you ever get the feeling that there are just too many books out there and that you might not be able to read all the ones you want and how do you find out about the amazing ‘just you’ kind of books that would make your life a better place and what about all the authors you love and never seem to catch up on reading the back catalogue of and what about all the authors in translation, being translated or yet to be translated, and what about the classic novels, not just the ones from your countries canon but the ones from all over the rest of the world too and then what about all the books that are being edited or written or even just thought of or not even imagined yet for the future? And breathe.

That is how I have been feeling a little of late. I love books, can’t get enough of the blighters, yet sometimes the sheer numbers of them (be they from the past, present or forthcoming) just daunts me. It could be simply going through my shelves and boxes and boxes of books ‘to be read’, popping to the library, perusing publishing catalogues or book magazines and sites, listening to bookish podcasts, having a look at other people’s bookshelves or going to the London Book Fair (see picture below, post coming soon) etc – suddenly the amount of books just looms on you, and you get readers fright, your unable to perform reading-wise. Eek.

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That is where I am at the moment and I am sure I am not alone. There is excitement about all the reads ahead but also some fear and general bafflement. Then that sense of panic that I should be reading every spare second I have and if am not getting really frustrated and cross. Serioulsy the later happens, you can ask The Beard (who I have been with 2 years today, hoorah) all about my epic grumps if I haven’t had enough reading time. The ranting about ‘why can’t I just quite my job, eat dust and read all day’. Frightful. So how do we get through these moments? Should I switch off the bookish bit of my brain and spend some time doing other things or just get a grip and read on?

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I’m at London Book Fair…

This week I am having a jaunt down to London as I have been asked to speak at London Book Fair (which was frankly too exciting) which is on for three days. I have to say it is soooooo much bigger than I was expecting and I have been slightly daunted by it, who knew so many books could be so thrilling and scary all at once?

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I will do a proper post after the madness is all over, I was going to do some regular updates but thought lots of posts like that might get on your wicks. Though if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram (SavidgeReads) then you will get some titbits now and again. If you are at London Book Fair, or just in London as I am here till Saturday, do let me know and we can say ‘hey’ and have a chat about books, or you can be a friendly face whilst I am pooing my pants talking to lots of people about reviewing ‘The Book Journalist’s Perspective’ at Author HQ. Eek! Maybe I will see some of you around?

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Does Anyone Else Think…

That this portrait that my Granddad (Bongy) painted of his mother, my Nana Doris which I have inherited and finally picked up from my mothers this weekend, would look rather wonderful on a Persephone Classics or Virago Modern Classic (especially the old green ones) book cover?

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Or is it just me?

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Tale Telling Tattoo’s…

Well, sort of, but that does sound literary doesn’t it, which is apt. Not many people would choose to go and get a tattoo for their birthday, however I have been hankering after one for ages. The lovely Emma Jane Unsworth, who said I should call this post Monsters Ink, and I made a pact some time ago (I can’t remember exactly when so this could mean it was when we were rather merry) that we would get them together, being able to entertain the other who may be screaming or crying, and when we booked back in February the waiting list was longer than long and then we were snuck in. So last Tuesday we headed off to The Inkwell which is just down the road from me in Oxton.

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Now I could pretend I was really rock hard and didn’t give a monkeys as I headed there, though Emma would call me a liar if I did. I was very, very nervous and had actually been giving myself pep-talks since waking up, I have never had a tattoo you see and had only been told that it is ‘like a red hot knife dragged through your skin’ by The Beard who is a connoisseur. I am not renowned for being good with pain and can be a bit of a wuss. So when, after a sweet cup of tea and chat about our tatts, it was time to go in I got the nervous chatters until I was lying down and hearing the words ‘are you ready?’ I said yes, after a look of ‘come on love’ from the Unsworth and the famous buzzing noise started.

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I can honestly say that it wasn’t that bad. Initially it felt like a cat scratch, that oddly vibrates, and you soon get used to it. Amazingly the tattooist, and mine was amazing, seemed to know when the pain had gone up a notch and would stop and pop some lovely cool liquid on and start again. The only bit that really hurt was near my elbow when I did admit I wanted to ‘swat the pain as it feels like a wasp’ and was advised not to as ‘I have a big needle in my hand’ ha! An hour and a half later I was being wrapped up and feeling like a turkey after Christmas day. Well a now hyper one at any rate.

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Next up was Emma who was having a lion (which is also apt as she has a wonderful new novel called Animals coming out next month, just saying) from the park she played in as a child on her bicep, I was there ready and waiting to entertain.

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I am not sure I did the best job as we discovered afterwards, or in Emma’s case during, that the bicep is one of the most painful places that you can have a tattoo. Ouch! Looks good though doesn’t it?

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Swiftly after we were done we hurried over to the chemist for some Bepanthen, which they joked keeps them in business in Oxton, cream for the long-term aftercare before rushing off for some short term aftercare which was possibly a half pint in the beer garden before both stuffing ourselves with these…

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Well we deserved it didn’t we? We were such brave soldiers after all. In fact by the time we got back to mine we thought we were too cool for school and rock and roll stars really…

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So what did I have and how is it looking now? Well it looks a little flaky but it has settled down nicely and I think it is very me and in its own way rather literary…

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After all doesn’t every book start with those words, even if they don’t appear in the first sentence?

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I’ve Been…

…A little bit busy this week and haven’t had a proper chance to catch up with you all about some lovely things that have been going on. So I thought I would do a mini catch up and tease you all with a few things that I will be telling you all about soon, as is my want. First up though this has been my birthday week (though actually the celebrations carry on next week and weekend too, I am totally milking it) and I had brilliant birthday, thank you for your birthday wishes, it involved lots of pottering, sorting and the lots of cake as made by The Beard…

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In case you are wondering it is a lemon meringue cheesecake, which is my favourite cake as it is all sorts of amazing. The Beard being a trained chef meant it was even more amazing. Anyway that was all lovely and we had lovely friends round for the evening including my lovely mate Emma who I made a pact to get a tattoo, with a literary twist. As the date, which we booked back in early February, drew nearer I was getting more and more nervous. However, I did it…

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Yes that is a teasing shot as I will share it all with you next week! Teaser, in fact I am a triple teaser as today has been a bonkersly brilliant day in Manchester where I got to sit and have a coffee and a long chat with Emma Donoghue about Frog Music, which is very good, for next weeks episode of You Wrote The Book, she was brilliant and so lovely. I then met my aunty Alice, who you have all been recommending books for and she says thanks, for afternoon tea. Then I went and had a (two hour) wander around the refurbished Central Library…

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It is stunning and needs a special post so I will do that next week as I have a few reviews and posts to schedule before packing to go off to Harrogate tomorrow with three of my bestest mates to spend time mooching, eating cream cakes, drinking tea and being tourists. Cannot wait.

What have you all been up to? What have you been reading? What’s new?

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The Changing Taste Buds of a Reader; Is It Just a Phase?

Over the last few months I have noticed that my taste in books seems to have changed. I normally revel in a good ‘literary’ literary novel, yet oddly in the last month or so I have noticed that this is waning. I have started at least six or seven that I have then put down onto the back burner/shelf or simply passed on to someone else. It has made me wonder if my tastes in what I read had changed and if so why might that be?

Gav and I used to talk on The Readers (and interestingly Thomas and I discuss it on this week’s episode) about those most literary of books in which someone spends ninety odd pages walking to the shop and thinking about something. I was always quite a vehement defender of these books, yet I have noticed that those books simply aren’t working for me now. I lose interest, I am not really bothered about Mrs Muggings (I have just made her up, she isn’t in a real book that I know of) and the strife of her second marriage that lies in tatters and all her offspring who are all suffering in their varying ways – particularly middle class ones I have noticed.

That isn’t to say I have gone off literary books completely, far from it, I just think what I need with a literary novel is something, erm, novel or something with a different feel to it. I mean the thing is even with something like Jelly Belly (bear with this analogy, I have been eating a lot of them of late) you have your favourite flavours that you save till the end and then when you have had a few of them you think ‘ooh lovely tutti-frutti, but actually maybe I would like a tropical punch one now!’

Maybe a curry analogy, I always order chicken tikka but actually really like loads of new ones when I dare to try them, might have been better but the image wouldn’t have been so pretty. Sorry, I digress…

I haven’t given up on literary novels and just moved to ‘genre’ fiction, though I have noticed I am having a real hunger for crime, but I have noticed that I don’t want endless waffle and inner monologues and rhetorical questions for a three page paragraph. Basically flowery just isn’t working. I need hard core plot, narrative and characters. I need to be hooked in very quickly and made to want to come back. Putting a book down and forgetting about it has also happened a bit this year and it gets me and the book nowhere fast if I carry on.

Could it be that my tastes have changed for good, or is this just a phase? I am actually wondering if in fact our circumstances, and I don’t just mean mood which is really important, can change the readers we are? I can’t sit down for hours and hours reading like I did a few years ago and it was my main job. I don’t have the long commute to get slowly involved. I grab minutes in the mornings and afternoons and then have a few solid hours here and there in the evening around work, so maybe that is the change. I do find it quite unsettling though.

So I thought I would ask all of you about it? One of the many joys of social media and blogs is that you don’t feel like such a weirdo when other people feel the same. Interestingly, my mate Emma said that she thinks it can be a case of reading in cycles, she is currently having a phase of reading dark depressing books like she did in her early twenties. Could that also be the case? What do you reckon? Answers on a postcard, or preferably in the comments below. Ta!

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And Now We Are 32…

Ok, we aren’t and this blog isn’t, but today I am. Yes it is birthday day here at Savidge Reads. As this post is scheduled, so I can just have a day doing what the hoot I want all day, I am not sure what I will be up to. Though that said I do know that I am having a lovely dinner party with some of my friends. The Beard is doing all my favourite things for tea; prawn cocktails, steak pie and lemon meringue cheesecake (which is amazing, he is a chef so it should be but this is BEYOND) all followed by this…

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…Which makes me feel 12 (not just because of the popping candy that it is laced with) rather than 32 but that is a lovely thing. I have no real idea what I will be getting either apart from my lovely literary tattoo which will being etched on me for life early on Tuesday morning. I am slightly pooping myself, never a good look, yet I am oddly intrigued by how painful it will be. I have decided 32 is going to be a year of doing things I would never normally consider. More on that when I have mulled it, drunkenly discussed it and then decided on a definite plan of action.

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Sick of Being Sick

Why can’t being ill as an adult be like it was as a child? You feel dreadful for a bit, but being a resilient youth, you bounce back quite quickly and then have a few days in bed – preferably with some good books to spend hours reading, far too much tomato soup, cuddles and the promise of chocolates some time when you feel better. This is how I remember being sick, and possibly why I was prone to being a bit of a hypochondriac as a child. I blame my mother and grandparents, if you are going to make being poorly so rewarding what do you expect? As an adult being sick is just plain vile.

I am currently on day three of norovirus which safe to say I never want to have again in my life. There has been no tomato soup, as I am only just able to drink a glass of squash (sounds so dramatic but is so true) and not feel horrendous after – or exhausted from the effort, seriously. There have been no cuddles because I am really contagious (and indeed got told off when I was in so much pain yesterday I dared to seek medical advice) and The Beard is allergic to sickness (though revels in being ill, must have had parents like me). There is no promise of chocolate as the very idea makes me feel queasy (I must be really ill) though it does feel like a Cadbury’s delivery lorry has hit me in the chest, apparently I have sprained/bruised muscles I never knew I had. Worst of all there has been no real reading, because the room span for a day and a half when I wasn’t running to the bathroom. Seriously, being sick as an adult is horrid and this is only a stomach bug, albeit a nasty one. Looks quite pretty close up though doesn’t it?

Norovirus close up: something so pretty can leave you feeling so shitty.

Anyway, I thought I would do an oversharing post and share this all with you. I am unable to interact with anyone for at least another 48/72 hours, and haven’t seen anyone bar a sneering Beard and rather cross pair of nurses since Tuesday evening, so I guess I am just seeking some chats out here on the interweb and social media. Anything you fancy having a natter about? Anything new with you? Anything you’ve read that has been really brilliant? Do share. Pathetically yours.

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The Inheritance of Books…

So today is going to be a bit of a strange day as we scatter Gran’s (and half of my Granddads, which seems strange too) ashes and say a final farewell to her. It’s sure to be a day of mixed emotions and knowing us Savidge’s there will probably be hysteria from all extremes, laughter and tears.

As she was such a big part of the blog, as regular readers will know, and of my life on and off the blog I thought I would mark the day in some way. What could be more apt than sharing the books that I have inherited from her.

032It has to be said that when I was asked to go through her books and take what I liked there were three thoughts. First, I just wanted to regime them all because the idea of them going out the family bothered me. Secondly, I thought how she loved lending books and buying second hand books and wouldn’t it be nice to continue that tradition with her books. Thirdly I thought about how bloody many she had, even after my mother and aunts had been through them, and so I decided to pick books in a certain way. Initially I decided to take the books of hers I had read and had on my shelves but were her editions.

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There seemed something rather special and pay about this until again I realised that we’d read so many in common. So I changed tactics and took ones I had read and lent and never got back from other people, or books I had but her edition is nicer. I love the idea of our personal libraries merging.

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Next I turned to any books by my favourite authors. Now you might think there would have been hundreds of these but I have a bad habit, if I love an authors book I invariably go on a hunt/spree (second hand shops then readitswapit then regular trips to a bookshop) to find all the others of theirs. I’ve curbed it somewhat but it still happens and Anne Tyler and Nevil Shute, as you can see were two top choices. The Shute’s are particularly special as Gran used to have these editions by her bed in our old house Sunbury when I was really little till I was about 12 so many memories there with those.

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After that it may look a bit like a free for all but there was still method to my madness, what books had I not read that a) Gran had told me I must read b) would have liked me to read. These I split three ways; classic, modern…

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And of course non fiction, something that I’m not the best reader of, Gran was especially stuff around WWI and WWII, but want to improve with.

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I do have to admit I did take a selection of books just because they looked pretty. Any special series Penguin do are generally a treat to behold, Great Ideas are no exception. I probably won’t read them but I don’t think Gran ever did either, no disrespect Gran. Ha!

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What has been lovely is since getting them home I have been sorting them (into hardbacks, paperbacks and then in alphabetical order) and as doing so I have discovered more of Grans reading habits. She often wrote her name in the front and the date she got it and then the date she read it. Occasionally other relatives (my mother or aunties Caroline and Alice) names appear in the inlay, I’ve not told them. Oops. What’s been doubly lovely are the books that are inscribed by her friends and indeed my Granddad (as you’ll see below on her 43rd birthday when I was 3) which conjure lovely images of relationships and friendships don’t you think?/p>

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I was sad I couldn’t take the remaining ones with me, there is only so much WWI and WWII literature anyone can stomach though. Ha. Jokes aside the idea some shared reads we had and now in a combined library is a lovely one. Even more lovely is that with all the books I’ve not read and have ahead, I can think that Gran was flicking those pages and reading those words before me, so we are still reading together in a way.

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Something About Stationery…

I had been mulling the idea of doing something regular on stationery last year and then thought that it might not appeal to those people who are looking for something bookish in their blog reading diet. However, after I did the post the other week on finding some of the stationery that Gran used to use and now adding it to my collection (which I will share with you shortly) it seems that as a general rule of thumb book lovers love notebooks almost as much as they love books themselves.

For me the joy of heading into a stationery shop is actually close to the thrills of a bookshop. I wonder if that just means I am addicted to some subliminal mass paper high of sorts but I can spend ages and ages and ages perusing and coveting endless notebooks, pens, recipe holders, book journals, multi-coloured dividers… I could go on. In fact, and I can probably say this now without getting into heaps of trouble, when I used to be an office manager I was a companies nightmare, I didn’t want the cheapest stuff I wanted the nicest stuff - but not just for me, for everyone. Budget permitting of course… Cough!

Anyway over time I have created quite a collection (I used to work far too near a chain I wont name, other than to say it starts with paper and ends in chase, oops) over the years though shockingly all of these are pristine, I haven’t written in a single one of them as yet. I just like to know they are there…

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This is very bad as people close to me will know how often the phrase ‘oh, I need a new notepad’ is uttered. And then one must be found. Yet oddly I end up using scrap paper because I cant bear to make mistakes in a book. Is that weird? I also have started getting stationery catalogues, its dangerous.

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Anyway, I have now decided that I must do some regular(ish) stationery feature, the question is what? I have been thinking on and off all day (between working from home with a fever, sniffs and sneezes aptly as typing) and it might be my fuzzy brain but I can’t think of something fun, quirky and original to do. So I thought I would ask you and, as a reward, whoever comes up with the best idea or ideas will win some stationery (not the cheap or boring stuff I don’t mind scribbling all over) or vouchers you can spend on stationery.

I want ideas for a post format or themed posts that could be a series of stationery delights. So have a think and let me know. You have until midnight Saturday when I will pick one idea and do an example post the following Monday to show who has won and what they have won… Get thinking and brainstorming in your bound paper books of note joy. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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New Reading Arenas…

Apologies for more silence on the blog. I know I am beginning to sound like a stuck record but in the last week I’ve not even managed to read a chapter of a book let alone getting around to writing about any books. I have managed to book a break away at the end of this month,which I cannot wait for, to Harrogate so thank you for your reading recommendations for Yorkshire and keep them coming. I have also spent most of the weekend so far sorting out new reading arenas…

As I am sure you will all agree where you do your reading is REALLY important. Well, I now have two new sumptuous (firm but comfy and cosy, ideal) sofas that I have inherited from Gran which are snugly sitting in the lounge ready to have many an hour of reading spent upon them.

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What’s so nice about these is firstly that they have been in the family for a few decades and so have many, many family memories attached to them. Secondly, some of these are naturally reading ones. Only early last year were Gran and I sat on them reading books in that delightful companionable silence only real readers can understand. With only the occasional words of book comparisons or wondering aloud if we should open another box of Thorntons chocolates?

Now those of you who will know the lengths I went to find a reading armchair a while back, fret not. It has not been relegated. In fact it’s now moved into a reading nook in the bedroom and been given a slight modern twist…

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Fun isn’t it. And the cushion may mean that a certain two pussy cats (or in fact just Oscar) might not hog it all to themselves anymore. So I now have lots of places to curl up with a good book, I just need more time to do it!

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Can You Recommend… Books Based in Yorkshire

Well, when I say Yorkshire I actually mean York or Harrogate (alas not when the festival is on). Let me explain… I was hoping to get some winter sunshine abroad in March, hop on a plane and hot the beach with a few books nothing too fancy. However I decided to spend some of the money, and indeed some of the time, on having a (rather literary) tattoo instead. All is not lost with getting away, and who knows maybe there could be some sun involved, as I am going to have a break elsewhere in the UK.

Each year myself and three of my closest friends, Polly, Michelle and Dom, like to have a long weekend away together somewhere in the UK, often somewhere rather random. We went for the thrills and spills of Alton Towers last year and then the most random plastic log cabin near a very odd pub – people stared at the strangers in the village much to our giggles.

We were plotting Whitby this year, however as those naughty monkeys all live in the south it’s a bit of a mad trek for a weekend (we might do a week next year) so instead we have two options – possibly one by the time you read this – which are places on the outskirts of York…

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Or the outskirts of Harrogate…

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Either way we will be in some of this country’s most beautiful countryside and near a wonderful town and city with lots and lots of bookshops to explore hopefully. So what I was wondering, as all four of us are rather bookish geeky folk, if you knew of any books set in York, Harrogate or Yorkshire at all? As we may just pick one and have a little book group while we are there, or at least have some books to turn to if it rains and we all get bored of each other, ha! Let me know…

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Book Notebooks, Keeping Up With Tradition

Isn’t it weird how sometimes things seem to crop up at just the right time, or a memory pops into your head unbidden that then means a lot at a later point? I had a serious case of this over the weekend, which in its own way has rather a bookish twist.

I was just off to the post office to finally send Marieke Hardy a Chris Ware inspired pen pal parcel (if you are reading this – unlikely – Marieke I am sorry it has taken so long, I have written loads of excuses in my parcel) to Australia. As I waited in the never ending queue, and mourned the days of the post office being in the now closed local bookshop, I spotted some notebooks which instantly sent me off into the past. Bright red Silvine notebooks.

I can vividly remember Gran having these notebooks in which she kept all sorts of notes. Be they shopping lists, random things to remember or of course notes on what she was reading, in to these books they would go – those or some weird notebooks she inherited or possibly stole when she left her job. Initially I thought nothing of it, though it seemed apt I spotted them as I had really been missing her that morning, weird how random days can just get you the little buggers. But I bought one, popping a note about the memory of them in it, and included it in my parcel bound for Oz.

Anyway, as I said I didn’t think much of it after that. Until after having taken my old iPhone off to be sold, I went to catch up with my varying impending reviews and realised all my ‘bookish notes’ had failed to transfer from phone to phone. I was distraught, weeping almost happened, vexation hit. Awful.

Well after an hour blethering about it, moaning about it on twitter and then remembering I backed those notes up to Gmail – goodness only knows how, I can’t blinking remember. I came up with the idea that really I need to have hard copies of these notes, somewhere reliable and so I made a special trip up the road and came home with these…

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Yes, four of the notebooks that Gran used to use. Four may seem excessive but at 59p a go you can’t go wrong can you, so how could I not? I have a wanton craving for stationery at all times and this sated it in the lead up to pay day. Most importantly though I liked the idea that a tradition of bookish sorts has been passed down the family line and now when I write my bookish notes I can think of Gran as I do so, not that she wouldn’t flit through my mind anyway, as it’s almost like I can write the notes to her as she’s not on the end of the phone.

Do you have fate filled moments like this? Have you gained any bookish hand me down traditions? Where do you keep your book notes? And one of the biggest mysteries of all (ha, how to hype a question) why is it people who love books also really love stationery?

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