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Reading a book (or fifty)

Last year, I set myself the usual challenge to read 50 books. Since I managed to do this in 2019, I was determined to keep the streak going and I did! I enjoyed a wide range of books.

I re-read some books – the most in a year I think (Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, On Writing by Stephen King as well as texts that I teach like Romeo and Juliet, Stone Cold and A Christmas Carol). I listened to quite a few audiobooks and I read a lot of non-fiction. Last year was not really a year for reading fiction for me – I couldn’t seem to stay focused on it with all the madness going on.

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A New Routine

It is definitely a characteristic of mine that when I am faced with increasingly chaotic circumstances, I respond with lists and routines. This is ironic given that I find it impossible to stick to a proper routine myself but I definitely like to impose them on others, particularly the kiddos (and really, by kiddos I mean Evelina as I defy anyone to impose anything on Austin). I was also driven by something more meaningful than a need for routine, though. I have been finding my days spent mainly between working, cooking and cleaning, and entertaining Austin; Evelina was definitely getting the short end of the stick when it came to my time. I wanted to spend some meaningful time with Evelina and Austin so I decided to adjust our morning routine to make sure that every day, we were spending time, learning and discovering things together.

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Watching a Play

It may be a big dark cloud above us right now but it doesn’t come without a silver lining or two. One such lining is the National Theatre who is showing a different play each week.

I was just enthralled by Sally Cookson’s production of Jane Eyre. The staging, the music, the sparsity of it and the raw emotion, they all combine to make a compelling adaptation of this much loved novel. It is still available to watch for a week so there is plenty of time to watch it if you missed the live streaming.

I know what I will be adding to my reading list for 2020 now.

‘It is a bright, sunny morning, sir… the rain is over and gone.’

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Reading Aloud

The sun is streaming in through the living room window. We have nothing we *have* to do and nowhere we are able to go. Austin asks for me to read again his newest Julia Donaldson book, The Scarecrows’ Wedding, so we read and listen to the audio CD that came with it.

Then it is time to read to Evelina. We are deep into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, holding our breath with Harry as he carries out the second task for the Triwizard Tournament. Our hearts race as he struggles underwater.

I am so lucky that reading aloud happens to be an important part of my job and it is certainly something from my work that I am happy to bring home. I love making those words from the page come to life, doing silly voices, adding drama with intonation and emphasis. Evelina commented that I never seem to get tired of reading to her and I am so happy that she noticed because it is true. If life is getting slower with lockdown then I am all for all the extra reading time.

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Writing in the Cracks

One of the excuses I make to myself for not writing is ‘I don’t have enough time’. This is an excuse I use for a lot of things I think I want to do but do not get done. Exercise. Memory keeping. Solving world peace. I say ‘to myself’ when it comes to writing because the hard truth is that whilst it might be something I care about, no one else in the world cares if I write or not. It will not affect anyone else’s life if I do NOT finish my first draft. It does matter to me but until it matters enough that I choose to spend more of my spare time on it, I will not make much progress. And I do have spare time – we recently managed to get through all nine seasons of The Office.

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Reading Challenge for 2019

Last year, I was so pleased to beat my previous personal record by 6 books meaning that I managed to read 48 books in total. The elusive target of 50 is still taunting me though and I feel I must be getting closer to being able to achieve it, surely?! I will be tracking my progress on Goodreads as usual and over on my Reading Challenge page.

Here are some of my favourites of those 48 books from last year:

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50 Book Challenge Update

We are just over a quarter of the way through the year and I have read 15 books which I am pretty happy about. According to Goodreads.com, I am one book ahead of schedule and I have read a fair variety of books including these two which have become new favourites:

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Favourite Reads of 2017

It has been such a long time since I have written book reviews for the books I am reading – I used to review every single book. I stopped because (amongst other things) I didn’t really enjoy writing about a book straight after reading it. Either the books I read were powerful, in which case I needed time to digest, or they were not interesting to me once they were finished so I didn’t feel like writing then either.

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