Books to read in lockdown
Books, lists

6 books to read while you’re in lockdown

I’ve got to tell you guys that a more optimistic (to be read: in denial) side of me wanted to be a fountain of creativity and productivity and all the other -ivities that lots of lifestyle blogs and influencers are telling us we should be during this weird time. Weird is a bit of an understatement – I’ll go with surreal. Anyway, all of that turned out to be miles off from even the shores of reality.

Sometimes we just need to take things very, very slowly. You haven’t written 2,000 words of your debut novel? That’s okay. Haven’t felt inspired to paint a masterpiece? That’s fine. Not learning a new skill to make you hot shit at work? No worries. Sometimes it’s an achievement just to get up and fight through the day again. Sometimes having a shower and changing out of pyjamas and into your favourite booty-accentuating leggings is all you need to do to be “productive”, whatever that means anymore. Please can we give ourselves permission to NOT be renaissance men and women in the middle of a rather scary pandemic. Thanks.

Now that that’s covered, let’s look one of the ways we can deal with staying home more: reading. I’ve found comfort and, when I can’t bring myself to write, a kind of creative nourishment in books recently. Even more so than usual as a bookworm. So with that in mind, here’s a little lockdown reading list to help you escape for a few hours, no matter where in the world you are.

Mythos by Stephen Fry

This lovely retelling of the Greek myths brings together two of my favourite things on this Earth: Stephen Fry and mythology. Oh, and a stunning book cover. I can’t tell you guys how much of a comfort I found this book to be – it feels like he’s reading me bedtime stories. You can hear his razor-sharp wit and the gentle cadence of his voice come through the page – a testament to his skill as a writer, I think.

Right, enough about my clear crush on Stephen. More about the book. The narrative itself does a fantastic job of weaving together all the (kind of incesty) threads of Greek myth we’ve picked up from popular culture, creating one big, beautiful tapestry for us all to appreciate and learn about.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This bestseller is actually on my to-read list, but the simple fact that it’s just come out as a TV series (in the UK, at least) makes this a perfect lockdown read.

I’m very here for something emotionally devastating, which apparently this is. Can we please make ’emotionally devastating’ into its own genre? I’ve got suggestions: On Chesil Beach, The Memory Police, et al.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

I’ve written a full review of Before the Coffee Gets Cold, and I loved it so much I had to mention it again here. It’s so delicately written and explores the ripple effect a single action in a single relationship can have masterfully. Genre-wise, I’d put it somewhere in the realm of magical realism. There may be time travel and a grouchy ghost, but it is primarily a story about relationships, and an exploration of that ‘what if?’ feeling we get when, in taking one course of action, we close off all other routes into the future.

Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

I was very late to the literary game reading this, but I loved it when I finally got into it this year. Escape into the smokey world of 19th century London, and get better acquainted with one of the best-known characters in popular culture: Dr Jekyll – or Mr Hyde. He answers to both these days.

Even if you’re already familiar with what happens in the book, more or less, the way this is written will have you in a fever to get to the next page, and the next, and the next. One of the reasons I loved this gothic novella so much is the sheer depth of the themes it explores. From the duality of mankind to the nature of good and evil, the struggles of addiction, society versus the primal within us all – and probably a whole lot more I’m yet to discover on my next reading.

Emma by Jane Austen

Reading books from a different time, culture, or genre than the one you’re accustomed to feels like a good way to escape for a bit, don’t you think? Emma is one of Austen’s most popular and best-loved novels, and was recently turned into another film adaptation starring Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhoose.

Emma is a bit of a nosey know-it-all who fancies herself a bit of a matchmaker. We all know someone like this, even today, I’m sure. Anyway, she’s got a good heart really, but through the course of the narrative we see her mature (to be read: eat a slice of humble pie) thanks to a series of match-making blunders and her own stubborn determination that she’ll never fall in love or marry. She’s far too clever for that. The drama of it all, you guys.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Ah, Agatha. Your tales of detective fiction are like a comfy, oversized bean-bag I can sink into after a long day, preferably with a glass of red wine. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd isn’t the first novel she wrote in her Poirot series, but it is the first work of hers I read during my BA. It’s an easy but very satisfying read, where Hercule Poirot entertains but also gets down to the bottom of a gruesome murder. Best bit about this novel? Very interesting use of the narrator. I’ll say no more.


So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Five books for you to crack open in lockdown. I hope, as you’re reading this, that you’re keeping safe and well, and that you’re staying an actual 2 metres away from everyone when you’re out and about. Seriously, lockdown has taught me that very few people actually know what 2 metres looks like. Ugh.

If you have any other recommendations, please pop them in the comments!

Kelly

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independent bookshops in Edinburgh
Books, Travel

Independent Bookshops in Edinburgh

I’ll level with you – I wanted to upload this post before 2020, but you know what the festive season is like. It’s hard to write coherent sentences when you’ve eaten so many pigs in blankets you’re on the verge of becoming one. But here we are, refreshed and ready for a whole new year of books and literary gallivanting.

So a while back I asked the lovely people on my bookstagram to recommend their favourite independent bookshops in Edinburgh, and they delivered. I was going to be there anyway to see its famous Christmas Market for the first time, and there is literally always time to visit bookshops. ALWAYS.

Armchair Books

Address: 72-74 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE

This hidden gem feels like something straight out of Harry Potter’s wizarding world. It’s a cosy little nook on city’s West Port, under the watchful eye of Edinburgh Castle.

Every spare inch of space is bursting with books, from beautiful antiquarian tomes to recent bestsellers and everything in between. The range of genres here is unlike any other second hand bookshop I’ve visited so far, so this small, family-run business with that old book smell we all love is a (well-priced) must-visit.

Armchair Books is the kind of place where you don’t have to whisper, but there’s a weird sense of reverence for the sheer volume of literature under its roof. Also they sell very cute tote bags.

Topping & Company

Address:  2 Blenheim Pl, Edinburgh EH7 5JH

It was my first ever visit to Topping & Company, one of the bookshops recommended by you guys on IG (thank you!). They’ve got more shops in Bath, Ely, and St. Andrew’s and to be honest, I might just beg them to open up in Newcastle too.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll notice how (a) warm and welcoming and (b) nicely laid-out the shop is. There’s a HUGE range of books nestled politely in their pristine shelves, waiting to be picked up so they can make your acquaintance and charm you into taking them home. The shelves stand tall and stacked with beautiful books, so much so that they’ve got those cute shelf-ladders dotted around. My inner Belle felt all warm and fuzzy inside.

While I was browsing, a lovely bookseller came over to ask me if I’d like anything to drink while I looked around. Yes, they serve pots of coffee on the house and show you to one of the perfectly placed tables so you can sit comfortably while you debate whether or not you really need all eight books. Don’t just take my money, take my hand in marriage. Consider me wooed.

But they’re not just bringers of much-needed caffeine; they’re also super knowledgeable about basically any book you pick up and will probably have a recommendation or two for you based on what’s in your hands at check out.

Golden Hare Books

Address: 68 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AQ

One of the most popular recommendations on my list, Golden Hare Books was actually voted Independent Bookshop of the Year in the UK and Ireland in 2019!

Visually, the shop is stunning; they’ve actually designed the shop in such a way that you can see as many outward-facing books as possible while you browse – a welcome fact that plays on your bookish curiosity. If, like me, you do judge a book by its cover, this is ideal. But don’t take my word for it – take a look:

And if that’s not enough fabulousness for you, the good people there also run a book subscription box. Yep. Books. Delivered. To your door. Or your loved one’s door, whatever you fancy. Very pleasing.

Lighthouse Books

Address: 43-45 W Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DB

Another of your kind recommendations! Lighthouse Books specialises in curating and selling work by non-mainstream , marginalised, and political voices from all over the world. They also have dogs. Need I say more?

This cosy little bookshop will have you feeling right at home as soon as you walk in. Speaking of homes, they also have a brand-spanking-new Writer in Residence programme that’s definitely worth a look if you’re a wordsmith looking to sharpen your skills or just engage with a tight-knit community of readers and writers.

The Portobello Bookshop

Address: 46 Portobello High St, Edinburgh EH15 1DA

Given that Edinburgh has such a strong presence when it comes to indie bookshops, I was very surprised to find out that Portobello didn’t have its own place until very recently. Enter, The Portobello Bookshop.

This beautiful bookshop made its home in what used to be a fishing tackle shop – fitting, considering the location. Known for its warm, contemporary look and a layout that really lends itself to a leisurely browse of the many books on offer, you could easily spend hours lost in this corner of the city. And just in case you’re not familiar with Portobello…

Here’s what the sunset looks like! Picture yourself breaking into your latest book haul with this as a backdrop. Not too bad, eh?

The Edinburgh Bookshop

Address: 145-147, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP

We’ve got another award winner in our midst, ladies and gentlemen. The Edinburgh Bookshop (I do love a simple name) was named Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year 2018, and was sweetly described by The Guardian as ‘the kind of bookshop we’d all like to have in our neighbourhood’.

The Edinburgh Bookshop is run by a smiley team with a load of experience in the industry under their belts, so if you’ve got questions or just need a recommendation for your next read, they’re always more than happy to help!

McNaughtan’s Bookshop

Address: 3a, 4a Haddington Pl, Edinburgh EH7 4AE

This one’s a little different from the rest of the list! McNaughtan’s Bookshop first opened its doors in 1957 and specialises in rare, collectible, and second-hand books.

They also have a gallery for you to enjoy, where you’ll also find a quirky mix of newer publications and second-hand typewriters for sale. Like I said, a little something different.

Tills Bookshop

Address: 1 Hope Park Cres, Edinburgh EH8 9NA

I stumbled upon Tills Bookshop completely by accident, during a taxi ride into town one night. Am I always on the lookout for bookshops like some sort of excitable meerkat? Yes.

I mean come on. They have a working fireplace. Imagine rushing in on a blustery day, with winter biting at your heels. Walk in. Browse. Warm up. Pick up a few books you might want to buy. Hang out and read with the sound of a crackling fire punctuating the words on the page.

So there you go, my book-obsessed friends. A quick little roundup of independent bookshops in Edinburgh; if I’ve left any out, tell me about it in a comment! The more the merrier.

-Kelly

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books to read for halloween
Books

5 spooky reads for people who just can’t let go of Halloween

Ghosts and ghouls, witches and warlocks, monsters and mythological beings, and yes – even you, the one at the back who stumbled in here because they took a wrong turn. Take off your shoes, get comfy. Grab a blanket.

books to read in autumn

Halloween has come and gone, but some of us (myself included) aren’t quite ready to let go of the best part of Autumn just yet. As far as I’m concerned, November is fair game and I’m not ready for Christmas until the first of December. Besides, there are far too many books to read that fall into the ‘scary’ category.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

I first found out about this spooky story when I was a kid. Every year, Cartoon Network would show essentially the same set of seasonal cartoons, and there was one called The Halloween Tree that I’d watch with the same enthusiasm every single year. Give me a break, this was before Netflix and all those newfangled streaming tools we have now. Anyway, I Googled it one day and was delighted to find that it was actually a 1972 novel by none other than Ray Bradbury, who also lends his voice to the animated version. Pretty cool.

When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.

Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree takes you through the rich history of Samhain and Halloween through one eventful night shared by a band of costumed boys rushing to meet their friend, Pipkin. Led by the mysterious Mr Moundshroud, the boys go on a journey through the past to save their friend while learning the true meaning of Halloween. Oh, and the whole thing is illustrated with hauntingly beautiful drawings.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

This one’s a real pop-culture classic and comes with a great 1968 film adaptation starring Mia Farrow.

Like so many unhappinesses, this one had begun with silence in the place of honest open talk.

Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary and Guy are a young couple trying to build a life together in New York. How do young couples do that? Apparently by buying a strange apartment in a creepy building that is literally a hotbed of death and bad juju. Anyway, everything seems to be going well for them: Guy’s acting career is picking up, they’ve befriended their eccentric, nosy neighbours, and the two are finally ready to start a family. What could possibly go wrong, eh? Spoiler: plenty.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

If you’re interested in true crime, serial killers, and love a narrative loaded with suspense, this one’s for you. If you’re not interested in any of that, well…here’s why you should give this a read anyway.

To watch these things issuing from the otherwise mute pastoral morning is a man at the barn door. He is small, unclean, unshaven. He moves in the dry chaff among the dust and slats of sunlight with a constrained truculence. Saxon and Celtic bloods. A child of God much like yourself perhaps. 

Cormac McCarthy, Child of God

Child of God is arguably McCarthy’s boldest portrayal of human brutality and outright depravity so it’s not exactly a relaxing bedtime read. The protagonist, Lester Ballard, is a social outcast – a murderer and necrophile reminiscent of the real-life killer Ed Gein. In terms of the narrative, McCarthy’s bare style carves out a quick, gripping read you won’t be able to put down (or forget about) easily.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

If you’ve never read this classic gothic novel before, now’s the perfect time to jump in. If you have already read it, now’s the perfect time to get re-acquainted Wuthering Heights and get lost in the misty Yorkshire moors once more. Bring a coat.

I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death; and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him.

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

In short, the novel is one of searing revenge. And I mean serious long-game revenge, not your regular store-bought kind; when you get to know a bit more about Heathcliff’s backstory, it becomes pretty clear why the guy’s pissed off. Knocked down into the role of a servant by his adopted family, Heathcliff is devastated when Catherine Earnshaw – the woman he loves – basically marries a man out of her desire to move up in society. After a long absence, Heathcliff returns rich, educated, and angry. He’s dead set on getting back at the two families he feels have taken his soulmate away and ruined his life.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This classic needs no introduction, but we’ll do it anyway because we’re thorough that way. I still can’t believe that Shelley wrote her best work at the age of 18. Do you know what I was doing when I was 18? Me neither. Exactly.

Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Frankenstein is a Gothic masterpiece about an eccentric scientist named Victor Frankenstein and the ‘monster’ he creates – though reading the novel will leave you questioning who or what the real monster is here. Through the first-person accounts of one Captain Walton, Victor, and his monster, we learn a little about what it means to be ‘human’ and are left asking a lot of questions about the oh-so-fine lines that separate humanity from inhumanity, if they can ever truly be seen as separate at all.

What are your favourite spooky tales and bone-chilling horror stories? Add to my to-be-read pile and pop your suggestions in the comments!

-Kelly

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Happening Annie Ernaux book haul
Books

Book haul: London Indie Press Book Fair

I do love when the world conspires in my favour. I mean, it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but that’s not the point. A few weeks ago I booked a train down to London to see my baby brother (FYI: a fully grown man at this point, but forever baby brother) and what pops up in my Instagram feed? This bad boy:

YES. Right up my book-strewn alley. The London Indie Press Book Fair is a free event organised by Dostoyevsky Wannabe and the Contemporary Small Press Project that invites independent presses to sell their books and zines, chat about industry trends and celebrate the industry we love – with drinks and snacks available, of course. Is it even a literary event if you don’t have a glass of red in your hand?

I wish I could have bought something from every press there, but there’s only so much a girl can carry back up north. Here’s what I picked up!

Happening by Annie Ernaux

Kong’s Garden by Hwang Jungeun

Bad Boy Poet by Scott Manley Hadley and Shitstorm by Fernando Strigotti

book blogger newcastle

If you’re curious about all the indie presses that were there, here’s the full list:

Anyway, my fellow bookworms, I need to go and crack on with this growing to-be-read pile or there won’t be any book reviews. THE HORROR. If you’ve read any of these, or have any other indie publishers and presses you’d like to share, go for it!

-Kelly

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what is books are my bag
Books

Books are my bag: what you need to know

So here’s the thing. A few years ago—a fair few more than I’d care to admit right now—I learnt about Books Are My Bag thanks to boss booktuber Leena Norms. This year, I can finally participate. I’m excited. And I want you to get excited too, so here’s a quick overview of it all.

What’s ‘Books Are My Bag’ about?

Once upon a time (2013 to be precise) the Booksellers Association created a clever campaign to celebrate magical places all over the UK. These places are your friendly neighbourhood bookshops. It’s all about supporting your local booksellers and appreciating every aspect of the book. From the beautiful cover art in front of you to delightful window displays, writers, editors, printer, marketers, and passionate booksellers—we’re here to celebrate it all, with each bookshop serving as a little private party just for you. TL;DR: it’s all about encouraging people to buy books in physical bookshops. Sounds good, right? Right.

With online retailers effectively taking the rug out from under brick-and-mortar shops, the overall aim of the campaign is to encourage readers all over the country to buy books locally. By doing that you’ll be feeding your (arguably healthy) addiction to books while supporting local businesses and helping to create jobs.

Oh, and your chances of stumbling upon a title you’ve never even heard of increase dramatically when you shop the old-fashioned way. Amazon can make all the (paid) suggestions it likes—nothing beats a real-life recommendation from someone who really loves books, or being drawn to a stunning cover in a genre that you might not have considered otherwise. BAMB is made up of a couple of ‘smaller’ events:

  • The BAMB Readers Awards, where you can vote for your favourite fresh-pressed reads of the year, and nominate something for the Readers’ Choice Award (anything, be it newly published or classic).
  • Bookshop Day (5th October 2019), a day for you to go out, explore bookshops, and do some guilt-free book shopping.
  • Independent Bookshop Week: this week of bookbug fun is made up of fabulous things like book crawls, author signings, reading groups, storytelling sessions, literary lunches and the like. Each shop does its own thing!
    • Save the date: Independent Bookshop Week 2020 = 20 – 27 June. 

Bookshops in Newcastle upon Tyne

I’ve been living in Newcastle for over two years now, but I’ve got to admit that finding indie bookshops to put on this list was a bit of a struggle. If you know any, leave a comment – I’d love to build up a list of bookshops big and small to share with you guys. Anyway, here’s where you can go to celebrate #BookshopDay this Saturday and enjoy some bookish self-indulgence:

Independent Bookshops in North East England

There are a few more bookshops I wanted to mention based on my own experience and my friends’ recommendations. They’re just a metro or train ride away, so I thought I’d pop them in here and add to the list as they come:

So that’s that. Books are my bag. They very much are. Follow my shenanigans on Instagram, and let me know if you’ve got any bookshops you think should be on my list! My bank balance won’t thank you, but I definitely will.

-Kelly

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book review caitlin moran how to be a woman
Books, review, thoughts

#CurrentlyReading: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

book reviews

If you know me, you’ll know that I have something of an addiction to books. I own roughly 350 books spread across 4 bookshelves around my house, and I have absolutely no intention of stopping until I get my own Beauty and the Beast style library. Am I asking for too much? Possibly. Will I give up? Unlikely. Anyway, unhealthy obsession aside – I’m starting a series of blog posts called #CurrentlyReading – essentially book reviews before I’ve finished the book, just because the book in question is just too damn good to wait (or  too terrible to continue).

caitlin moran how to be a woman

To kick off this literary love-affair, I’m excited to share Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, published in 2011 by Ebury Press.  I first heard about Moran through one of my favourite BookTubers (Leena from JustKissMyFrog), and put her on my to-read list along with another 20 or so books. I completely forgot that I wanted to buy How to Be a Woman until I saw it at Blackwell’s in Newcastle (also known as my second personal nirvana after Waterstones) and quickly snapped it up before my little brain could forget again. I am now hooked. This book is part-memoir, part-humour, and 100%  pure wit. She takes us through her own life, from awkward childhood through to impossible puberty and that mysterious thing called Womanhood in a seemingly effortless thread of questions, like:

  • Why do women get Brazilians?
  • Do we have to get Brazilians?
  • Why is everyone asking me about babies?
  • Why is everyone asking me about my love life?
  • Why is everyone getting married?
  • What about porn?
  • Why do bras hurt?
  • Is there a better name for ‘the vagina’?
  • What are the worst names for ‘the vagina’?
  • What’s this ‘fashion’ thing?
  • Children?!

And so on and so forth, hilariously mingled with Moran’s very relatable personal anecdotes. I rarely laugh-out-loud when reading, but this one has had me snorting cappuccino out of my nose in the most unattractive way possible. One of the blurbs on the cover is from Grazia and describes the book as, “The book EVERY woman should read.” Quite frankly I’d like to take this further and say anyone who is or indeed knows a woman should read it, even if it’s just for the laughs. We do our best learning when we’re laughing anyway. I like to think so, at least.

Let me know if you’ve read this book or anything else by Caitlin Moran in a comment below! What are your thoughts? Is this something you’d read?

-Kelly

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top 10 books to read
Books, Lists of Love

Top 10 Books on my To-Read List

As a self-confessed book-hoarder, bookworm, and bibliophile, having an out-of-control list of books I want to read is a part of the job. Another thing we book-fiends revel in is talking, writing, and gushing about books until we hear the gentle click of the kettle as it comes to a boil. Enough chit chat – on to the books!

1 | Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

I’m utterly obsessed with vikings and Norse mythology, and I think Neil Gaiman is just fantastic. When I hit Waterstones in Newcastle and saw this beautiful hardback edition of a book that merged those two things together, I just had to have it.

2 | Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

Now this is actually a collection of poems by English spoken-word poet, Kate Tempest. I only really started to appreciate poetry when I was reading for my degree in English, but since then I’ve more than made up for it by making time to read good poetry, especially by writers who are still alive and kicking today.

3 | Event by Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek is a brilliant philosopher who, yes, I discovered at university but want to learn more about. Enter Event. 

4 | The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

After falling hopelessly in love with The Great Gatsby and dealing with the inevitable book-hangover that followed, I’m ready for my next dose of Fitzgerald. Let’s say it – the man has a knack for badass titles.

5 | A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes

A colleague of mine with excellent taste in books recommended this to me, and I’m going to trust her completely on this.

6 | The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Shame on me for not having read this already, I know. I’m sorry, please forgive me. But I’m here now, and I’m ready to enter Discworld.

7 | Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is one of those writers who make you feel like you’re sitting down for a chat with your ridiculously good-humoured friend who’s also casually clever.

8 | East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This one is one of the heavier reads that I challenged myself to read a year ago. Ish. I’ve obviously failed. But I love John Steinbeck and will consider this blog post a promise that I will read it this year. Hold me to it, guys.

9 | Underworld London by Catharine Arnold

I love a bit of history – especially when it’s mixed in with some gritty crime. The full title is Underworld London: Crime and Punishment in the Capital City. Need I say more?

10 | The Elder Edda translated by Andy Orchard

Ah, we end where we began – with norse mythology! The Elder Edda is a collection of anonymous, Old Norse poems alive with the culture and history of the people who created them. It was actually one of the texts that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it gets my vote twice.

Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought in a comment below.

Until next time!

Kelly

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the acid house irvine welsh book
Books, Haul, Personal Style

Books and a spot of vintage shopping

Welcome to the first post of 2018, ladies and gents! We’re a little too late in the month to talk about such things as New Year’s Resolutions (I’d probably say something generic like ‘eat more fruit’ and ‘spend more time switching off from the online world’, you get the gist of things), so I thought we could dive right in with a few bits and pieces I’ve acquired over the festive season and first bit of January. Onward!

Books

Okay, you might remember that when I finally made the big move to Newcastle, I was only able to bring about ten books with me. I own around 370+ books in total. It was difficult. Painful. My shelves were a little too empty for my liking, and the bookshops here are too tempting for my own good, so I have actually acquired a few new tomes (and brought a few back with me when I visited Malta last year).

Let’s start with a bit of a Bukowski haul…

The three at the top (Post Office, Factotum, Women) were Christmas gifts from my baby brother, and Love is a Dog from Hell was something I picked up with a Waterstones gift voucher. Bukowski is one of my favourite poets of all time, but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never owned any of his books at all! I also picked up a copy of Stephen Fry’s Mythos with another gift voucher. Lucky me!

Next up, the books I bought when I went to Barter Books in Alnwick (again). I might have mentioned this before, but Barter Books is a gorgeous little second-hand bookshop just an hour and twenty minutes away from Newcastle city centre by bus. It used to be a train station, and today looks like something out of Hogsmeade:

And here’s a look at what I picked up from Barter:

book haul

the acid house irvine welsh book

Vintage Bits

A while ago, I spent some time looking into the thrift/vintage shopping scene here in Newcastle. I love dipping into charity shops and hitting vintage shops to find unique bits and pieces to make my outfits stand out. Sort of. Anyway, I picked up this pendant from The Yesterday Society in Grainger Market:

And these awesome pieces from FLIP American Vintage:

vintage shopping

Snuggly-as-hell 1980s jumper

vintage ralph lauren

Green striped Ralph Lauren shirt

 

 If you’ve got any books (or vintage shops!) to recommend, hit me up in the comments! 

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the sound and the fury william faulkner
Books, thoughts

#CurrentlyReading: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

the sound and the fury william faulkner

Another blog post and yet another book my fellow bookwormy friends. I was re-watching Mad Men for the umpteenth time and noticed that Don Draper’s lady-friend, Joy, was reading The Sound and the Fury in one of the episodes. I’ve wanted to read something by William Faulkner for a while, and the title of this particular work is – let’s face it – pretty badass. I’m half way through the novel right now, and wanted to share my thoughts with you guys.

The first thing that struck me was the way he brings together the stream of consciousness technique with a certain ‘bare’ quality that I just love. What do I mean? Here’s an excerpt:

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o’ clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

That. Last. Line.

It’s not the easiest read in the world, so give yourself some time to settle into the book and adjust to the character’s perception in each chapter. The Sound and the Fury is probably best described as a tragedy, so don’t read this if you’re looking for a light, happy story, and get ready for some messed up lives and fragmented family happenings.

Oh, and I find it best to read Faulkner without any distractions (e.g. TV, Netflix, YouTube – forget about it). At the very most, some instrumental music or the background buzz of a bustling cafe’ will do.

Have you read anything by Faulkner? What do you think about his work? 

-Kelly

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lifestyle blog
Adult Life, thoughts, Travel

So…I’m moving to the UK.

Well I have been quiet for a fair while, haven’t I? Things have been a little hectic, partly because holy shit I’m moving abroad for the first time in my life. And that kind of thing takes time, you know? Existential crises take time.

 

Where am I off to and what’s the plan?

Anyway, I’m moving to a northern city called Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and I’ll be living and working there while I study for an MLitt Philosophy at Newcastle University. Hurrah! For a long time, it’s basically been my dream to do exactly that – but that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows once I hit the big, red button.

The (Blind) Panic

There have been many times where I was gripped by this white-hot fear that it was all going to be a terrible mistake – that I’d end up alone, nobody there would like me, and it’ll all just be a massive failure resulting in me returning to Malta with my tail between my legs. The flip-side to that was pure elation at the fact that I finally took the steps I needed to get myself where I want to be; it’s easy to get too comfortable here in Malta. Easy to forget how badly you need to leave.

On wanting to leave Malta

Before some of you reading this hop on the ‘MALTA D BEST’ bandwagon and get on my case for wanting and needing to leave, give me a moment. Malta is a great, beautiful island with centuries of history and some of the nicest people you’ll meet this side of the Mediterranean – but no matter how great your home country might be, I think it’s just so important to live abroad for a while, in different countries if possible. Why? Well I just think it shapes us into generally better, more independent and interesting people. Living with your parents until you’re like 30 isn’t the way to encourage personal growth, just saying.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll move on to one other reason I need to leave: the way this country is being ruined one development, one crane, one bribery at a time. The fact that ‘we’ the people seem so powerless to stop it is maddening.

I’m tired. Tired of the year-round struggle with allergies and throbbing sinus headaches I get because of the dust. I’m tired of the 8+ cranes I see every morning as I make my way to work. I’m tired of the other (countless) cranes spreading across the island like some sort of plague. I’m angry about how the so-called Planning Authority is doing literally nothing to preserve our history or maintain some sort of aesthetic integrity in our cities, towns, and villages. They don’t care and they don’t listen. I’m angry that the government does nothing to stop this rampant over-development of our tiny island – we’re going to run out of space, and you can’t bribe someone into creating more land. I’m tired of the traffic and pollution. I’m tired of how disgusting this supposedly-1st-world EU country looks when you venture beyond the bits we show to those all-important dignitaries. I’m tired of the complete disregard shown to the environment. I could go on, but I think you get it, right? On to more positive things!

Things I’m Excited About

Oh goodie, my favourite part. I’ve been visiting Newcastle ever since I was a child because I have family up north – so I already know what I’m excited to do once I settle in there:

  • Waterstones, Blackwells, and all the other bookshops that are NOT Agenda
  • Cooler weather (I’m a winter person)
  • Sweaters and scarves and wooly socks
  • Hanging out with my English family
  • Newcastle University!
  • Grainger Market – a huge market in Newcastle where you can buy all the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat you want (and more) at really good prices
  • Trains
  • Castles, lighthouses, ruined monasteries, etc.
  • Amazon Prime Now, not even going to lie
  • Having my own space that’s 100% mine and not in Malta
  • Lush
  • Snow (a little bit)
  • Pub lunches
  • Living right next to a huge park
  • Getting a bicycle

I’m a woman of simple pleasures. Give me a bicycle, a good bookshop, and the university of my dreams and I’m set. Oh, and here’s a picture of a tiny seaside town, just an hour away by bus, at sunset:

 

Anyway, I think I’ve moved past the whole ‘terrified to leave’ stage and into the ‘I’m so excited’ stage! Of course I’ll miss everyone here, but I’m only moving a 3 hour flight away. It’s not Australia.

Have you moved to another country? Do you have any tips for a newbie like myself? Hit me up!  

-Kelly

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