What’s this? What’s this?

What’s this? What’s this? There’s colour everywhere
If you’re not now singing What’s This? from The Nightmare Before Christmas then I simply don’t know what to tell you.

But yes, what is this you may ask, is it a blog post, Emma? Yes! Is it a triumphant return to this blog? Have we kissed COVID-19 and working from home and a worldwide pandemic that only showcases global inequalities more? Are things back to some kind of ‘normal’? No! Far from it! But I have decided that I would like to re-focus and, perhaps, re-prioritise reading again.

As I mentioned in my last post way back in May 2020, COVID-19 and the subsequent work-from-home mandate shook up every part of my routine. As an extremely introverted person, people assumed lockdown would be fine for me. It wasn’t. The little social interaction I previously got from having to get up and get on a train and go to work five days a week in an office was removed from my life entirely and I realised very little remained in my life. Every day since then has felt like a groundhog day and, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, 2020 and 2021 have probably been some of the worst years of my life, an opinion that I know isn’t uncommon. Will 2022 be any better? Well I just don’t know, I hope so, but I’m not an optimistic person as a rule, especially when us all getting through this relies on humanity and compassion and common sense which, I think we all suspect, is hard to come by in some camps.

So, I don’t know what 2022 will bring, or if it will be any better, I don’t know if my anxiety or depression will get worse, or if I’ll learn to manage them better, but what I do know and can control is the fact that I would like to read again. And I would like to talk about my reading on this blog because I think that will help me. Maybe it will also be mildly entertaining for anyone reading it too? I hope so. So you might see some reconstruction going on whilst I figure out a fresh layout and graphics and way of doing things, a bit of a Spring clean but in December, because that makes total sense to me.

So, until my next post (when maybe I’ll feature some of my favourite books that I did manage to read this year), please stay safe and well and keep reading.

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Reading in the Time of Corona

2020 has not been a great year for reading so far. It just has not been in my priority. Between bereavement at the start of the year (expected, but still shakes up the routine), feeling overwhelmed with work and then, the big one, COVID-19, 2020 is not going to be a very good reading year.

This blog has been practically inactive, and you’ve probably noticed the lack of at the very least my monthly wrap-up posts, though I did manage to perk up in April to take part in the OWLs Readathon, which I’m really glad about. I still watch BookTube, but to a lesser extent than I used to and it all feels a little unsteady at the moment anyway. I still participate in Lauren and the Books’ low-key reading evening ‘Cosy Reading Night’ every so often. But I’m just not seeking out readalongs and readathons with quite as much gusto as I used to.

It’s easy to blame coronavirus. Every other part of life has been disrupted by this pandemic, so why not reading? At first, I actually felt a strange sense of detachment and guilt when it came to this. Because I’m an introvert who was told to stay indoors, to work from home, to not see people… surely that should be my jam? But, no, what it did instead was ruined the work/life balance, made creating any sense of routine difficult, obliterated pre-set ‘reading time’ (i.e. my commute and lunch breaks), and made all the days blur into one.

Surprisingly, I think it’s the last one that’s actually the reason why I haven’t been reading very consistently. Nowadays, three days can pass before I realise that I haven’t so much as touched a book. And, for me, a perpetual book nerd and someone who very much identifies as a reader, this has been the most shocking thing.

At first I felt a sense of guilt about it. Because I was seeing all these people on social media who were tearing through books, who (in that sense only) were “thriving” in lockdown because it meant they spent their times consuming as much culture and as many exciting stories as they could, to educate, to distract, to enrich the mundanity of life under lockdown. Or they had picked up a new hobby or were learning a skill, teaching themselves piano or I don’t know card tricks. They had found a way to turn something that sucked into a time to keep their chin up and do something.

I felt guilty – why wasn’t I like them? Why wasn’t I finishing books? Why wasn’t I watching more TV even? Why wasn’t I brushing off my very rusty Spanish skills?

And then I realised, the thing I have been doing is that I’ve been writing more.

When I spend any amount of sustained periods of time indoors, I start to spiral – my housemate can attest to this – and my mental health takes a nosedive. And we’re talking BC here – before Corona. I know part of this feeling is pure guilt, guilt that I am in a comfortable position in life and yet I’m not… living it, but rather choosing to stay inside and wallow and not do anything with my weekend, even if I know I do need to recharge. I’d say at least once a month, if I didn’t make weekend plans (even if those plans were just to go out to breakfast), I would spiral into that weird dissociative thinking where I felt like I didn’t… exist because I had spent all weekend indoors and hadn’t interacted with the outside world at all. It wasn’t true disassociation, because I could pull myself out of it immediately once I started to feel like shit, but I do have the tendencies of it.

So you can imagine how, COVID-19 necessitating that the world go into lockdown and stay safe at home is… a lot. But I’ve been surprised that, aside from a few blips, I’ve just accepted it. Because I am able to safely remain at home, I can still work from home and don’t have to go out and risk my health and that of my family to go to work on the frontline, I am in an enormously privileged position. All I need to do is stay at home and that thought used to terrify me because of my mental health but honestly? I’ve been slightly surprised by myself.

And I think that, for me right now, writing is my way of putting something out into the universe. My way of asserting a claim to being present and existing… because I’ve been indoors, sure, and I’ve not interacting with anyone other than my housemate, but I’ve also created something myself. For now (and I do hope it is only for now), reading feels too passive for me personally. I desperately love consuming stories so I desperately hope that my love (and my habit) of reading will come back to me, but I need to stop beating myself up if me and reading are taking a break right now. I need to be happy that I’ve found that, for now, writing is my way of existing and that is the thing that ultimately helps significantly more with my mental health.

So maybe 2020 isn’t a reading year. Maybe I won’t succeed at any of my reading challenges. Maybe I won’t blog all that much. Maybe I won’t finish that TV show I’ve been meaning to watch nor that book that’s sitting half-read on my bedside table. But that’s ok. Because to say 2020 is proving unprecedented is an understatement right now and maybe just existing (in whatever shape that takes, be it writing, be it reading, be it rewatch TV shows) is more than ok.

Because, if nothing else, this is a time to be kind to yourself and to stay safe.


I hope you’re all doing ok and are staying safe and well as much as you can in these very stressful and uncertain times. If you are reading, what are you reading right now? I weirdly chose to ignore all the people who told me not to and read a book about a pandemic during a pandemic and found it incredible (Station Eleven if you’re wondering) and strangely… comforting, in the weirdest of ways. If you’re not reading, what are you watching on TV? Or have you picked up a new hobby? Or have you been able to spend more time with your family at home? Or how are you filling your days? Please do let me know in the comments below!

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You’ll be back, time will tell

Long time no see, eh? If you’re even a slightly-frequent reader of this blog, then you might have noticed that I have been MIA for the past few weeks. In truth, since September really, I’ve not entirely been feeling my blog. Every post I’ve written has felt like a chore. That’s not to say I haven’t been reading, but even that has been less frequent that I would like. I’ve still been around generally but I haven’t been participating in as many readalongs or readathons and I’ve felt much less engaging with the online book community than previously. My Booktube watchlist is at a frankly horrifying number of unwatched videos so the less said about that the better. The upshot of which, though, has been that even when I haven’t felt inspired on my own, I also haven’t felt inspired by other people’s content either. I could say it’s a combination of things that has caused this slight hiatus but, if I’m honest, the overwhelming thing has just been a lack of inspiration and motivation.

However, as NaNoWriMo has come to a close in the last few days, I’ve had more time to think about writing things that aren’t fictional. I have realised I do miss blogging which has been a slight revelation. It wasn’t that I ever thought I’d want to quit blogging, but I didn’t realise just how much I enjoyed having an outlet until I wasn’t using it as an outlet. I have been writing some fictional bits and pieces for NaNo in November (and I won, for the first time ever, a discussion post about which I’m sure will come!) and I do enjoy the act of writing. And I miss blogging.

So, I’m going to try to make a real effort in December, and in the months to come, to blog more. I did think ‘oh maybe I should wait until 2020 and do a revamp of my blog, New Year, new start etc. etc.’ but then I realised, the passing of one year to the next is just the arbitrary passage of time so why not do things now, instead of waiting for January? I think I may accidentally end up doing Blogmas but we shall see if the motivation holds out long enough for that!

This is just to  (re)say: hi, hello, howdy, hola, how have you all been? Have you been doing well? What’s changed in the last few months? Do you have any super important life or reading updates I should know? Let me know in the comments and I hope to be around more this month, and in the months to come!


My 2019 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year. Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the third quarter of the year. If you want to know how I did in previous quarters, take a look at my first check-in or my second check-in.


1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list

Guys, I have done nothing on this since the last check-in, I am failing miserably at it, in fact. However, I think October may well be the month that I get to some of those dark academia books (i.e. We Were Villains)because Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House is released at the start of October and I will likely be keen to read all books set in pompous colleges. We’ll see what happens with the rest of the books on this list, haha.

2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list

I have not been succeeding at this at all. I’ve only read 2 classics in the entirety of the year and I should have read 9. October brings with it Victober though, so maybe I’ll prioritise some classics then? Fingers crossed!

3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month

Surprise surpise, I’m kind of failing at this goal too. Although, since the last check-in (at which point I hadn’t so much as looked at a non-fiction book), I have read technically two whole non-fiction books, Art Matters (which is barely a book but, hey, it’s on Goodreads so it counts!) and The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Something tells me that I’m going to need to participate in Non-Fiction November if I hold any hope of completing this goal.

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My 2019 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year. Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the second quarter of the year. If you want to know how I did in the first quarter, have a gander at my first check-in.


1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list

I’m not going to lie to you, chief, I’ve made zero progress with this since the last check-in when I’d done precisely nothing either. BUT I have started a re-read of the Raven Cycle so that I can remind myself of what happens in the first three books before I read the fourth and final one (finally). I know, it’s little consolation but, hey, I have to take what I can.

2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list

At my last check-in at the end of March I’d read 1 classic in 2019 and since then I’ve read 1 more which… isn’t good. Yeah, I need to get back on these monthly goals because I am just failing at them.

3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month

Remember I mentioned the whole ‘failing at monthly goals’ just now? yeah, I’m failing this one too; I still haven’t read any non-fiction books. At this rate, I’m going to have to just read 12 non-fiction books during Non-Fiction November.

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My 2019 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year. Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the first three months of the year.


1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list

Sooo, starting off strong, I’ve read precisely 0/5 books on this list so far. Good job, Emma, you’re doing really well with these resolutions already. I wish I could say this will change in quarter 2 but, let’s be real here, I’ll probably rush to finish those 5 books off in the final quarter of 2019.

2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list

To date I’ve read exactly 1 classic in 2019, and even that was waaaay  back at the start of January when I was full of aspirations about my reading. Since then I haven’t properly thought about including at least 1 classic on my monthly TBR so I’m majorly slacking on this goal. I will catch up though, I’m determined.

Anyone fancy buddy reading something that’s on my Classics Club list? Hmu!

3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month

Surprise, surprise, just like I’ve been ignoring the ‘put 1 classic a month on your TBR’ goal, I’ve also been ignoring this one too. In fact, I haven’t finished any non-fiction books this year. I’ve started them, sure, on audio I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Dolly Alderton’s What I Know About Love – the tone of the latter is super irritating me so I’m likely to DNF that, but the former I was really enjoying so I need to get back on my audiobook game and pick it up again!

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Discussion | Collecting Books, Hauls and Unhauls, and Marie Kondo

Today, I’m going to do a post that is, probably, a month or so behind the curve. A short while ago book bloggers across the Internet were a mixture of alarmed and flabbergasted by the idea, attributed to tidying-up goddess Marie Kondo, that people should own 30 books in their collection. Of course, as with often everything on the Internet, this was a misunderstood, misquoted, and distorted version of what Marie Kondo actually advocated in her Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up manifesto. But we’ll come to that later…

Overall, I’ve always been ever so slightly skeptical of the KonMari method. I could say that it’s because I’m not a big “mindfulness” person (and the idea of thanking your possessions for how they’ve served you still is kind of iffy to me, personally) but it’s mainly because I didn’t want to face the fact that, although I don’t consider myself a hoarder, I have stuff. A lot of stuff. And probably a majority of that stuff is stuff I don’t technically need to keep. I am that person who keeps train tickets from fun trips with friends or keeps tickets from going to the cinema or the theatre so that I have some kind of tangible “proof” that I went there (other than the intangible memory of that day). I don’t have that many knick knacks really but, being a bookish person, the knick knacks I do have are all bookish. They’re collected from years of people buying me bookmarks, or me collecting key-rings as souvenirs, or buying several bookish subscription boxes and keeping the merchandise (even if it was themed around a book I hadn’t read, and probably still haven’t). So, the KonMari method was always something I was wary of but, after being prompted again by a work colleague to give her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo a watch, I did that a few weekends ago.

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My 2019 Resolutions

As you may have seen from my final quarterly check-in of my 2018 resolutions, I did pretty ok at my somewhat ambitious yearly goals last year.

As always, I tend to do better at the reading goals than I do at anything else, partly because reading is always (and has always been) a priority of mine so I’ve never had to really work at those kind of resolutions. Even so, I still like making them because the process of deciding on them and actually checking in on how I’m doing at various points in the year actually really helps me to work out what I want to do with my year. Of course, it’s life so priorities shift throughout the year and I don’t expect any resolutions I make at the start of a year to have all been completed by the time we come to the end of a year, but it’s still nice to have something to aim for, isn’t it?

In that spirit, here are my 2019 goals…

(I’m just kidding… mostly.)

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #4

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, throughout 2018 I have been doing check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, at the end of June I posted my second check-in, and my third check-in came at the beginning of October. Today’s post is my fourth and final quarterly check-in and will, ultimately, also deliberate on whether I completed my goals and aims for 2018 or not.

(If you need/want an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here before diving in to see how I did below.)


1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in I’d read 63 books and I mentioned that I was hoping to get to 75 by the end of 2018. well, I surpassed that. I’m quite proud of myself for that. Presuming I finish off the book I’m currently reading tonight before that arbitrary ticking over of the clock from 11.59pm on 31st December 2018 to 12.00am on 1st January 2019 then I will have read 83 books in 2018 and will be rather pleased with myself for that.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: Completed
Progress on this slowed considerably in the third quarter of 2018, and I had many challenges left. December dawning weirdly motivated me to keep going because I was behind but not insurmountably so, if I just sat down and worked out what I needed to read to complete the challenge. As I sit and type this post up, it’s New Year’s Eve and I have one book left to finish the challenge of “a gothic novel”. About 120 pages stand between me and saying I completed Around the Year in 52 Books so I’m going to optimistically say I’ve completed this resolution and hope that, by doing so, I haven’t damned myself.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failed
As mentioned at my last check-in, I didn’t even think about finishing any series and that tradition carried on into the rest of 2018 too. It just wasn’t a priority for me anymore and, do you know what? I think I’m ok with that.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failed
It’s becoming a joke right now but, nope, I still haven’t finished War and Peace. It’s getting faintly a little ridiculous now. I just can’t decide if I’m going to need to start afresh or at least read a length summary of the first five volumes before I can finally read the sixth part of the book – not wanting to face up to this possibility is what has definitely put me off picking up Tolstoy’s brick again. I also didn’t read another Russian classic but, hey, I read a huge French classic in the form of The Count of Monte Cristo so does that count?

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30 Before 30

I have a love/hate relationship with anything that resembles a ‘bucket list’ or ‘X before X’ list. I love the idea of optimistic goal setting but the realist (read: pessimist) in me knows that I likely won’t get to accomplish every goal I set myself due to lack of confidence, lack of money, or lack of opportunity – or all of the above. It’s because of this mindset that I have quite a fraught relationship with anything in this vein of list-making, particularly because it also strikes a strangely sensitive chord in me when it comes to travel-related goals which so often take up lists such as this.

You see, I have been to very few places in my life – growing up we just didn’t have the kind of disposable income that allowed for holidays to far-flung destinations; what we did have was the money to have a bloody good time going on a family holiday to a caravan site somewhere on the Spanish coast. Again largely because of money, I didn’t go on any school trips to places outside the UK either (no Easter skiing holiday or history trip to Auschwitz for me). I’ve never really felt particularly deprived because of this, I’ve just been very aware that I haven’t been to a lot of places that other people might have. But it’s because of this that I don’t even know where to start with places I want to see in my life.

So, you see, bucket lists and 30 before 30 lists spin me to all different kinds of personal places – and not necessarily in the way they intend. Even so, I’ve decided (probably quite foolishly considering I’m 25 at the time of writing this list, and 26 is fast approaching) to construct a list because God loves a trier, right? There’s a mix of low key goals or challenges here and there are some that are more dependent on me having the financial means and (to be honest) the annual leave left to complete them. However, I hope it’s a nice mix of doable and then the more challenging things to accomplish.

As I composed this list at the start of 2018 (yes it has taken me this long to decide what I really think of 30 Before 30 type lists, it’s a wonder I ever achieve anything at that rate), I’ll be already marking off anything I’ve achieved so far this year in 2018. I hope to document each challenge in some way on this blog, whether that’s through a blog post series explaining why I want to do each item on my list and/or through a blog post of me recounting my trip to the given destination or the skill I wanted to acquire etc. Either way, I hope you will stick with me on my journey to complete this 30 Before 30 list which might just help to change my initial perception/hesitation on the entire idea of them too!

  1. Visit 10 National Trust/English Heritage sites/national parks
  2. Visit Chatsworth House
  3. Visit Greenwich
  4. Visit Versailles
  5. Visit Paris catacombs
  6. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral
  7. Visit Sagrada Familia
  8. Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
  9. Visit Wales
  10. Walk on Main Street USA
  11. See a Shakespeare play at the Globe
  12. Attend the Championships at Wimbledon
  13. Eat a croissant in France
  14. Eat a paella in Spain
  15. Eat pasta/pizza in Italy
  16. Read War and Peace
  17. Read Les Misérables
  18. Read all of Jane Austen’s novels
  19. Read a novel in Spanish
  20. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays
  21. Complete a ‘Classics Club’ list (reading 50 classics)
  22. Host a readathon/readalong
  23. ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in a month)
  24. Do a ‘blog every day’ challenge
  25. Knit a full garment (e.g. scarf/hat)
  26. Learn how to drive
  27. Own a MacBook
  28. Learn how to bake bread
  29. Learn a ballroom dance
  30. Attend a spinning class

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