Project Read My Bookcase

Since I started my new job in April I’ve been reading more, which is great. One of the best things about working (particularly in a junior position) as opposed to studying, is that leisure time can be proper leisure time unburdened by residual feelings of ‘I should be studying’ guilt. This is especially true of reading time, which can be proper reading-for-pleasure time unburdened by feelings of ‘I should be reading course-work’ guilt. One of the great things about working in a library, is that I’m working with people who also love reading – so recommendations and book-lending are constant.

When I started this job and simultaneously reduced my commute and expenses by moving back in with my parents, I unpacked all of my books onto my bookcase in no particular order (with the exception of series, which were kept together) and decided I would read/re-read them all in the order they were now on the shelf. In so doing, I would also cull my books by ruthlessly deciding after reading which books should be kept and which given away – through application of the ‘will I ever read this again?’ test. Thus far, project Read My Bookcase has been almost utterly unsuccessful. In six months I’ve only read about 6 books from my bookcase, because other books keep getting in the way!

Firstly, as mentioned above, people at work keep lending me books.
Also, I joined the book club at work. We meet every month/six weeks or so and discuss either one or two assigned books.
The book club books I try to get from the library (either the Glasgow library or the Perthshire library van, depending on whether I’m at my parents’ or boyfriendface’s house), so that I’m not wasting money on the book (and sabotaging the bookcase weeding agenda) if I don’t enjoy it.
Whenever I return a book to the library van, I feel bad if I don’t borrow another book.
Book club reading, library loans, and books borrowed from colleagues all need to be read by a certain date/within an acceptable time-frame and thus take priority over project Read My Bookcase books.

Then there’s the commuting factor. Mostly I now drive to work, but initially from Glasgow I was taking public transport – which I still do sometimes if I don’t want to drive. This means 15 mins on the subway, 30-50 mins on the train (depending which train I catch), and then 15-20 mins on the bus. And then the same in reverse to get home. From a reading point of view, this commute is great (apart from the bus, which makes me travel-sick if I try to read).
There is, however, Commuter Reading Problem 1: duration of commute vs. time required to finish current book vs. how big is my bag, and can I be bothered carting a ‘spare’ book around?
The obvious Solution A = e-reader, but then that wouldn’t help project Read My Bookcase.
I think maybe Solution B = bigger bag.

Of course what frequently happens is that I finish my book on the outward journey, and acquire another book for the return journey. This is even more problematic when it occurs on a journey into town (Glasgow) because thanks to Waterstones’ deals the book (singular) for the return journey generally multiplies into books (plural). (Incidentally, the biggest danger of implementing Commuter Reading Problem Solution B (bigger bag) is that it will involve a trip into town to purchase a big bag, which will mean being in town in the vicinity of Waterstones with an empty bag big enough to fit ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD!!!!!!)

Most of these books bought in Glasgow end up at boyfriendface’s, which essentially means that I also have a book-collection there, albeit a far smaller one. The ‘living between two places’ complication means that frequently when I finish a book I’m at boyfriendface’s and take my next book from there, thus delaying progress onto the next project Read My Bookcase book. In fairness sub-project Read My Books at Boyfriendface’s is progressing at a far swifter pace, and I actually do have a wee pile of ‘unlikely to read again’ books to be taken to the charity shop.

So, project Read My Bookcase is progressing at snail’s pace; however general reading is at it’s highest point since my undergrad (English) degree. I’ve been keeping a list since March(ish) and have read 32 books (39 if you split up several multi-volumes into the individual works, which I haven’t done on the list).

P.S. – I’m probably going to start blogging mini book reviews in order to combat ‘read it 2 months ago; can’t remember anything about it’ syndrome.

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Many thanks to the Interesting Literature bloggers for alerting me to Tolkien Reading Day (see re-blogged post below), of which I was previously unaware. In one of those happy incidents of coincidence (which I do so enjoy), I came across this blog post while logging onto the computer specifically to kill time until the Lego Lord of the Rings game finishes downloading on boyfriendface’s Xbox. (Many thanks to boyfriendface for buying me the game.) I do appreciate that this is a bit of a stretch as far as ‘Tolkien Reading’ goes, but I’ll make up for it by taking The Hobbit to bed with me tonight.

Interesting Literature

Today is Tolkien Reading Day, an annual event launched in 2003 by the Tolkien Society. (The date of 25 March was chosen in honour of the fall of Sauron in the Third Age, year 3019, in Tolkien’s fiction.) The reading day promotes the use of Tolkien’s writing in schools and library groups, and is celebrated in numerous countries. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together ten of our favourite quotations from John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. The first quotation, about Beowulf, is especially timely because of the recent announcement that Tolkien’s translation of that epic poem is finally going to be published!

On Beowulf and myth: ‘The significance of a myth is not easily to be pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather than makes explicit what his theme portends; who presents it incarnate in the world of history and geography, as our poet has done. Its defender…

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Minor highlights of the past few weeks

I haven’t updated in a while, as I’ve been otherwise engaged with getting my tonsils out and ignoring my laptop. This is just going to be a quick post of 10 things that have made me happy over the past few weeks:

1. The case of the missing teaspoons. All but one of our teaspoons have mysteriously disappeared from the flat. This in itself doesn’t make me happy, but the only possible logical explanation surrounding the strange disappearance does: as boyfriendface deduced, we clearly have Borrowers.

2. During the weeks BT (Before Tonsillectomy) I was getting pretty downhearted with being unemployed, constantly filling in applications, and doing a lot of exhausting travelling all over the country for interviews. On the morning I went in for my operation I was in my hospital gown, lying on the bed, waiting to be taken into surgery and experienced an overwhelming feeling of calm, knowing that for the next 2 weeks I would be ignoring everything to do with applications and interviews, and just concentrating on feeling better. It has to be said, that feeling of calm completely disappeared when I regained consciousness after my op, very much feeling like somebody had ripped my throat out with a very sharp implement (funny that); but then the nurses did a great job of replacing my zen with a pretty potent morphine cocktail.

3. Downton Abbey. Nothing like 4 series of a period drama to aid convalescence.

4. Finishing reading Les Misérables. I’ll just take this opportunity to point out that this wasn’t my first choice of rest and relaxation reading material, however I was kept in hospital for a couple of nights (not originally intended) and this was the only book available as dad happened to have it in the car. I didn’t massively enjoy the book (it’s a great story, but spoiled for me by extreme side-tracking; dubious and sweeping generalisations; and the shallow characterisation of female heroine in the simpering and downright irritating Cosette (I genuinely haven’t been so irritated by a character since I was forced to read Pamela at Uni)) but having read a certain amount I got a bit competitive and refused to be beaten by not finishing the book. I won. It felt great. Take that book.

5. Mum got me a book called The Perfect Hug. As this is just a quick post I won’t go into any further detail, except that it’s a kids book featuring a panda searching for the perfect hug – which says it all really.

6. The program about the baby panda on TV. Boyfriendface probably regretted coming round to visit on the same day as the baby panda program. Since I couldn’t really talk the only way I could alert him to moments of extreme cuteness (requiring appropriate levels of ‘aaaaaawing’ or excitement) was by repeatedly thumping him on the arm.

7. Jigsawing. My mum’s friend (at whose house I was convalescing) revealed on our final night that she had a Christmas jigsaw that she was still working on. Mum’s friend turned out to be a somewhat gung-ho jigsawist with a very liberal attitude towards how pieces fit together, which was pretty unexpected and very entertaining.

8. The Canadian 25 cent coin boyfriendface brought me, featuring an owl and bear. Canadian coins are so much better than British ones. If Scotland votes Yes for Independence and we need to adopt a new currency, I hope we fully embrace the opportunity to get some better pictures on our coins – highland cows, seals, eagles, shetland ponies, deer, puffins, squirrels…

9. My teddy seal. I don’t care if it’s ridiculous for a 26 year old to take a large stuffed animal to someone else’s house, having something soft and cuddly to hug made me feel a hell of a lot better when I was feeling pretty rubbishy.

10. I’ve just found out that the collective noun for ladybirds is ‘a loveliness of ladybirds’.

Nobody ever matches the weather

My flatmate is quite the film buff. I’m not. Boyfriendface maintains I’ve seen about 12 films, tops. That’s not really true (in the slightest) and actually I’m happy to watch a far wider variety of styles and genres than he is; but it is fair to say that I haven’t seen many of ‘the Classics’. Realisation that I haven’t seen *insert film here* tends to prompt excessive GASPing from my flatmate (presumably followed by stress-induced amnesia, because I’ll get exactly the same reaction from her the next time *same film* comes up in conversation).

One of these films is It’s a Wonderful Life. After many instances of GASPing and insisting that I HAVE to see this film, flatmate’s tune evolved to I HAVE to see it in the GFT (they show it every Christmas), which then meant that I wasn’t allowed to watch it in any other capacity until I’d seen it in the GFT. Four Christmases of flatmatedom have come and gone without us actually doing this, but tonight is the night! (It had better be worth the hype.)

Following conversation upon boyfriendface leaving for work this afternoon:
him: “Don’t cry at the film.”
me: “Is it sad?”
him: “Em, yeah – but happy sad.”
me: “Happy sad. Had. Sappy!”
him: “Yeah, it’s definitely sappy.”
I now choose to believe that’s the actual derivation of sappy… a description of those who will be emotionally affected by sad/happy events…

Apparently one year flatmate and her boyfriend at the time saw It’s a Wonderful Life in the GFT and when they came out it was snowing. Based on my sources (i.e. looking out of the window) I suspect this is unlikely to be the case tonight. But it’s OK – I’ve had fun with the weather this past week – albeit without leaving the house. Those times I did leave the house involved traipsing about town in torrential rain, and playing rugby in gale force winds and driving sleet – neither of which were particularly pleasant. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that, provided I don’t actually need to do get anything done, I quite like excessive weather. I quite like marvelling at the power of driving wind and rain, and even like being outside and buffeted about in such conditions – providing I’m not trying to do things, and have a warm house, jammies, and a hot meal to come home to. (Just to clarify for those living elsewhere – we’ve had some pretty stormy days in Glasgow recently.)

I am reading several books at the moment, for several reasons. One is Game of Thrones (although, strictly speaking I’m between books because having finished one I don’t want to pick up the next until I’ve completed certain things on my to-do list); another is To the Lighthouse (which was the first thing I picked up in the library when I didn’t have a book on me because Game of Thrones was too big to fit in my bag); another is Jane Eyre (which is kind of on hold because it’s on my bedside table at Andy’s house and there isn’t a lamp in the bedroom since I moved that down to the living room); and the other is collected works by Poe. And I’ve been getting the most out of Poe this week, because I specifically save him for when it’s dark, and the wind howls, battering the rain against the window…and the world is just phantasmagorical.

Well played past-me!

I don’t have any actual research to hand to back this up, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a lot of situations negative experiences are more easily remembered than positive ones. I’ve definitely read marketing literature claiming that a bad review does X-times more damage than a positive review does good; and from a personal point of view if you asked me to rhyme off stupid or embarrassing decisions I’ve made or situations I’ve been in, I could recall these a lot more quickly than I could positive experiences. That’s not to say I would struggle to remember positive experiences – just that the horrific frightening/awkward/embarrassing ones are more vividly prominent within my memory bank. That sounds a bit depressing; but I prefer to think that rather than this being a human tendency towards negativity, it’s probably a sound survival-instinct technique. If I’m an animal and I end up in a dangerous/ frightening/life-threatening situation, it’s very important that I have the capacity to clearly recall this, and can avoid actions that would put me in that same position again. (I have absolutely no research to back that up, but it seems like a reasonable proposition at the very least.)

Regardless of the whys and wherefores, given that it seems to be much easier to remember the negative life-choices, I think it’s worthwhile celebrating the positive decisions as and when these occur – be they big ones or pretty inconsequential. So, at one end of the scale there are things like going to Uni, going travelling etc. which are bigger life decisions that I’m glad I made. Then there are the smaller things like starting playing rugby again or joining the concert band, which made me a bit nervous initially, but I’m really enjoying and I’m glad I took the plunge to do them. Then there are those investments in time, effort or money which I’ve undergone in the knowledge that they would subsequently benefit me in whatever capacity: be that anything from buying a manatea tea diffuser – it’s so cute while the tea’s diffusing!!!!; to organising my (coughandboyfriendface’scough) paperwork (coughandbedsheetscough) – now we can find things when we want them and there are (for the time being) no longer piles on every surface. And then there are times when I deliberate and make a decision which works out well, and I am absolutely vindicated in making that choice – for example, yesterday I was doing interview preparation, after some consideration decided to take a break to watch the Ireland vs New Zealand rugby match, and am so very very glad I did because (heart-breaking though it was) it was a cracking game. So for all those good life-choices which I have made, be they big or small, I say well-played past-me.

But the most satisfying of all, I think, are those occurrences whereby a decision I’ve made in the past happens to work out very well for completely unanticipated reasons. Having waited until a) boyfriendface was far enough through reading the series that I wouldn’t overtake him and b) I’d finished my dissertation (both good decisions – well-played past me) I am currently reading Game of Thrones. I can be a bit impressionable when I’m reading things. This may be genetic, as I’ve recently discovered that dad has a tendency, not only to adopt accents when re-telling stories, but also to adopt the manner of speech of whatever style of book he’s currently reading. (He’s currently in Shakespeare mode. Mum’s so lucky.) For me, it’s more that certain aspects of different genres begin to sound very fun as I’m reading books, and I feel that my experience of reading the book will be enhanced if I really embrace this. So, if I’m reading period novels, a good swoon now and then works wonders; or, reading Tolkien is a sound reason to partake of a breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper mealtime schedule, and so on. I also always really want a travelling cloak, staff and some sort of matching leather knapsack and coin-pouch when I read Lord of the Rings – I feel that popping into town would be a lot more exciting dressed in such quest-like attire. So, I was reading Game of Thrones and they were ‘breaking fast’ on oats and honey and such like, at which point I took a notion for some homely fare, and after some rummaging in the cupboards discovered that I had at some point in the past few months purchased a box of oatcakes. Well played past-me.

That was a small example. This one’s much better. Age 13 I said that I wanted the Scotland rugby shirt for my birthday. After ordering through the catalogue mum said that the only size currently in stock was the medium men’s long-sleeved shirt, and did I want something else for my birthday, and I could get the rugby shirt for Christmas when other sizes were in? “NOOOOO!!!!” I said, “I want the rugby shirt.” Clearly aged 13 I was not the size of a medium-build male rugby-player. It was massive on me. 13 years later, despite having grown upwards and outwards, I am still not the size of a medium-build male rugby player. While it’s considerably less massive – and the sleeves are considerably shorter, having been subjected to over a decade of nervous chewing watching Scotland play – it’s still too big. However, this means that when I now go to Scotland games, I can fit seven layers on underneath, and therefore stand in a stadium in Edinburgh of a freezing November night, wearing a Scotland shirt as the outer layer, without needing a jacket, and still be cosy. What luck! What incredible foresight I displayed! This may be my greatest life-decision to date. Well played past-me!!!

I believe in 398.2 … too geeky?

You know that way when you hear a word or phrase, or see something, and suddenly you keep hearing or seeing it everywhere? Well, I’ve had a lot of that recently – as if the universe is embracing serendipity like it’s going out of fashion. One of the topics that keeps coming up is ‘geeks’. Susie Dent on Countdown has an ‘Origins of Words’ feature every episode where she discusses the derivation and drift (there ya go dad) in meaning and usage of words. On Thursday’s episode [currently available on 4oD, Thursday 14th Nov, 26mins into the episode], she was discussing the origins and development of the word ‘geek’. Apparently, the first usage of the word ‘geek’ in the 1800s meant someone foolish or offensive (from the Germanic word ‘geck’); it came to be applied to “spotty, unsociable students”; then came to be applied to people who were knowledgeable about computers – and you can see socially there’s been a reclaiming of the word into something positive – geek chic, geek pride etc. – people celebrating their interests, knowledge, and ‘geekiness’.

My mum was talking about a teenage boy she had met whose extensive knowledge of military history and manner when talking on the topic suggested Asperger’s. My dad and I were talking about continuity errors in theatre or film, and the type of person who will not only spot such inconsistencies, but will actively be on the look-out for these. I have a lot of friends who are into their fantasy, sci-fi, comics, role-playing games – all traditionally ‘geeky’ topics. Recently I was at a flat-party held by one of these friends. I didn’t know the vast majority of the people there, but essentially I walked into a room filled with unfortunate looking men (most wearing very thick rimmed glasses), who seemed completely incapable of making eye contact or holding basic conversation with a stranger. Honestly, I was quite taken aback, because for all that I’m aware of the geeky IT stereotype – the concept that programmes like The Big Bang Theory and The IT Crowd are based upon – I’m used to interacting with ‘functioning geeks’ – people who are really into the hobbies and topics mentioned above, but can also function perfectly well on a social level. So essentially, having understood (before Susie’s talk) the drift in implication of the word from ‘obsessive in-depth and socially inept’ to the idea of ‘geek pride’; in my actual real-life experience, I’d never encountered the former to this extent.

I have recently graduated in Information and Library Studies – which for the sake of simplicity I describe to people as essentially being ‘the qualification to be a librarian’. Having been back at Uni last year, and joined the rugby team and concert band, I’ve met a lot of new people and had that ‘so what are you studying?’ conversation multiple times. I’ve been highly entertained by the number of (young) people who, when I’ve told them what I’m studying, have replied, “cool!” So, Librarian = cool. Sure, I think it’s great – but it’s been interesting (and awesome) to see the number of other people who also seem to hold that opinion. Maybe it’s just the circles that I move in, maybe it’s just because it’s a slightly different/niche career choice, maybe this is part of the geek-chic perception.

As I said, I’ve recently graduated…and am currently unemployed. My mood swings vary between optimistic and despondent, interspersed with manic fits of organising my life and immediate surroundings – be those drawers, bookshelves, or boyfriendface’s bedsheets. To my delight I have recently acquired a new and bigger bookcase (well, new to me – it’s from home, and somewhat skew-wickety (a unique blend of skew-whiff and rickety)). I have taken immense pleasure in libraritising (join my campaign to get this verb added to the dictionary) my books. While the idea of using Worldcat and WebDewey to identify or construct Dewey numbers for all my books, and shelving them accordingly, did fleetingly cross my mind, I knew that a) for a personal collection of this size and content, that would not be the most appropriate way of organising these books b) that would not be efficient usage of my resources (i.e. would be a complete waste of time) and c) that would just be sad! When I was doing my undergrad English degree, a girl in one of my classes said she had a friend who organised her books according to ‘which books they would be friends with’. I quite like the idea – and I feel that it has the capacity to incorporate e.g. stylistic associations rather than blanket subject or genres. So my shelves run accordingly: plays and poetry (of which I have few, so I just group them together at the start), non-fiction Christian stuff (again, the odd bits and pieces mum has left with me over lent or advent, plus some C.S Lewis stuff); classic epic stuff (and Canterbury Tales, because I think Canterbury Tales would be friends with those books); Fairy Tales; children’s books and fantasy (which runs Harry Potter, Dark Materials, Narnia, Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, Neil Gaiman, Wicked); then runs into sci-fi/fantasyish comedy (Hitchhiker’s Guide, then Thursday Next series); then comedy and easy reading; which then goes into comedy/crime (Stephanie Plum series followed by Christopher Brookmyre); then thriller/horror/gothic; then because Northanger Abbey would be friends with gothic, but also obviously friends with Jane Eyre/Lorna Doone/Sunset Song; which from there can run into social commentary and dystopia; and then Trainspotting bridges between that and also drugs/violence/messed up (Clockwork Orange, Down the Rabbit Hole, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas); Fear and Loathing being road-trippy (teehee – see what I did there?) can be friends with On the Road, which can go with other coming of age/outcasty character/finding yourself; and so on and so forth…

To quote Simon Pegg:

Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.

Well said Mr Pegg.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a geek. I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as ‘cool’ either – through high school I was far too academic and far too good (behaviour-wise) for that. I’m a big reader. Other things I enjoy include Countdown (it’s fun to play along, and really satisfying when you spot a big word – and I really enjoy Susie’s sections, which, as someone who likes words, I find really interesting); and I really like Pointless – because useless facts are fun. I guess all of these things could be classed as geeky to an extent. However, I am nowhere near geeky enough to be embraced by geeks as one of their own. Although, boyfriendface claims that since I receive a monthly library magazine this makes me geekier than him and his Live Action Role Playing. I disagree based on the fact that it’s a ‘work thing’ as opposed to a hobby. Anyway, I got really excited and happy about organising my bookshelf. Would I be too embarrassed to tell other people about it? No – I am honest about getting excited about books and demonstrating that affection … to an extent.

I also saw a pendant online that read ‘I believe in 398.2’ (which is the Dewey number for fairy tales, folktales and fables). I like fairy tales, folktales, fables, myths and legends; I like organising things; I like references – and I like that I got that reference when I saw it (kind of – I couldn’t have told you offhand the Dewey number for that subject group, but from the phrase I correctly guessed that’s what the reference meant when I saw the necklace). Will I buy it…? Maybe – I quite like it. Would I buy it and wear it in public….? Nnnngggh….

Hello Internet

I’ve been toying with starting a blog for a wee while. I have slight reservations in that I was never able to maintain a diary, and my social media (Facebook) usage goes through sporadic phases, so I’m not sure how frequently this will be updated. We’ll call it an experiment, and see what happens. The timing though, is quite good. I’ve just the other week handed in my MSc Information and Library Studies dissertation, which was a study into individuals’ information sharing behaviour of things that make them happy – for simplicity’s sake, termed ‘happy information’. Am I glad the dissertation is finished?  Yes. Am I glad I did it?  Yes. Am I glad I picked that topic?  Massively – because although the dissertation was really hard work; although conducting and transcribing the interviews was really tiring; although I colossally underestimated how much data 30 interviews would generate, and how hard that would be to inductively organise into any workable format; I also spent three months talking to people about things they have shared that made them happy, and repeatedly re-listening to their stories, and that side of it was fun. It was interesting, heartwarming and hilarious. And although my study looked specifically at people’s motivations behind the giving aspect of sharing, as the interviewer I became a receiver of all this shared happy information – and that was a great position to be in. So, on the back of that I’m going to start blogging about the day-to-day things that make me happy, and share them with y’all. (I say ‘y’all’ – realistically, that’ll be myself and my mum.)

I said the timing of starting this was quite good – I mean that the notion of wanting to start a blog roughly coincided with doing the dissertation, which gave me an idea of things I could write about; which is quite good. The second reason that the timing is good is that today I woke up feeling fantastically happy. I’m not really a morning person, so my daily happiness doesn’t normally set in until there’s something to actively be happy about (something other than the fact that I’ve blearily awakened to encounter another day). So, I’m not entirely sure why I woke up feeling so happy, but it’s likely to be in part a residual happiness dragging over from yesterday. Yesterday consisted of making a serious dent in my to-do list (written in green ink for added awesomeness) with the resultant effect that items are being crossed off the list at a greater rate than additional points are being added (winning!); having a nice catch-up in town with a friend for lunch, before going to see my friends’ (really entertaining) play in the evening. So it was a good day. Equally good – if not better – was the spare time spent in town between lunching and catching my train.

I have new books. I have not one, not two, but FIVE new books. Waterstones’ ‘buy-one-get-one-half-price’ deal played me like a violin that’s been well and truly fiddled – and I know it, but I don’t even care. It started off that I wanted a slim volume that I could read on the train, but that would fit in my (reasonably small) bag. I was browsing and happened across the Translated Fiction stand. Based on the dual logic that the last book I read (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson) was a) translated and b) very good, and that presumably people only go to the bother of translating books which are deemed better than average in the first place, I began to peruse the stand with interest. Now, my book-selection techniques are generally as follows: I don’t discriminate against books with unappealling covers, but books with awesome covers definitely catch my eye. This is also true of titles. Books I have heard recommended and subsequently spot are also of interest. I place good faith in authors whom I know that I like, comparisons to the writing-style of these authors, and positive critiques on books from these authors. Mostly though, I’ll be swayed by the back of the book description concerning the plot and general content or style. My book-buying spree occurred thus – first, on the Translated Fiction stand I saw a book with a hippo on the front (!!!) called ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ by Juan Pablo Villalobos. The description seemed somewhat reminiscent of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (in the interests of not misleading people,  I should point out that I misinterpreted a bit and it turned out not to be all that similar to Fear and Loathing, but I did enjoy it) and it was a very slim volume. Then I continued browsing and came across….. ‘Grimm Tales’ – a retelling of Grimm’s fairytales by Phillip Pullman! (!!!!) I did not know this book existed – I am so excited. That book was on buy-one-get-one-half-price. It’s also reasonably chunky, and so at this point buying books to fit into my existing bag ceased to be a concern. So then I was looking for a book to get half price, and inevitably found two and couldn’t pick between them (‘A Trick I Learned from Dead Men’ by Kitty Aldridge, longlisted for the women’s prize for fiction 2013 “pitch-perfect…blackly funny, moving”, and ‘The Vet’s Daughter’ by Barbara Comyns – “a small gothic masterpiece”). So, now having three books in the buy-one-get-one-half-price, I obviously had to find another one, and happened across ‘The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year’ which my mum had mentioned during the week, but I hadn’t previously realised was written by Sue Townsend (i.e. the comic mastermind behind Adrian Mole). So that’s my five books. I’m so delighted. I spent far too much money, but since I don’t plan on leaving the flat until I’ve read these, I assume the funds will balance out accordingly.

The knowledge that I had a weekend of to-do listing and reading ahead of me most probably contributed to my good mood. I think though that what really made me happy was that when I woke up, my arms and my nose, and anything outside of the covers, was a bit cold. Through the curtains I could see that it was really sunny and a lovely looking day, but there was a wee nip in the air. Which means….? Autumn’s here. Now, I don’t not like summer – I like nice summer weather for doing things, I love wearing flip-flops, and I like long summer evenings – but now that autumn’s here I can pull on my snuggly jumpers and pretend to be a woolly mammoth; I can stomp about in my fluffy teddy-bear-esque slipper boots; I can curl up in my slanket (blanket with sleeves) while I sit on the couch; and soon I’ll be able to wear my brand new amazing turquoise woolly bobbly hat that I acquired from mum. I can legitimately run up and down the place announcing that Winter is Coming. Now I can make giant pots of soup or stew for dinner every night, with big hunks of crusty bread; and spend evenings curled up on the couch with huge mugs of tea. (To be honest, I do the latter anyway regardless of the seasons, but there’s an added satisfaction when you curl up with tea AND a snuggly jumper AND a blanket.) I think my body knew all this before I’d even gained consciousness this morning. I think that’s why I woke up feeling so happy.