The last few months have been completely hectic and I haven’t managed to read anything, let alone write anything! But a friend of mine at uni leant me a book and told me to sit down and actually read it.
And I am so glad they did because it took me all of a day and a half to read and it has to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s called The Last Leaves Falling and it made me cry. The characters were beautifully created and I love every single one of them. The relationship between Sora and his mother was poignant and at points, heart-breaking and his friendship with Kaito and Mei was realistic and oh-so-enjoyable to read.
The ideas that it explores are incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching topics but Fox portrays them in a serious and thought-provoking way. Topics like suicide are rife in YA fiction and it is not always written about in the most tactful way but Fox teats it with the severity and sincerity that is necessary without romanticising it as some writers tend to.
Basically, just get yourself a copy of this book and fall in love with the characters and the setting and the beautifully-poetic prose.
Just don’t expect to finish it with dry eyes!
For a bibliophile – just a fancy word for someone that loves and collects books – a bookshelf can be an unmitigated disaster. Perhaps the most difficult part is finding one large enough to accommodate all of ones books!
But how to properly organise is also a hotly-debated topic. So, I thought that I would put my two cents in and tell you all how I do it. Or, I suppose, how it is right now because I regularly change it!
I have three main ways that I organise my bookshelf depending on how I am feeling when I do it. I have the artistic way, the easy way and the traditional way. But one thing that is never affected is my top shelf which is home to my classics.
The top shelf remains the home of the classics regardless of anything else. Novels on one side, poetry and plays on the other. Novels are organised by time, beginning with Homer’s The Odyssey and ending with Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye. I decided to organise them like this because I like the way it looks and I like the simplicity of it. The poetry, on the other hand is organised in a blend of time and size because books of poetry vary drastically in size and that has to be taken into account.
But! The three ways I organise the bulk of my bookcase are as follows:
- the artistic way
- this means that the books are arranged in colour order, spreading from white through to yellow, through to orange, to red, to pink, to blue, through to grey and finishing with black
- I like the way this looks on the bookshelf so I regularly organise it like this however, there are a few downsides
- it makes it remarkably difficult to find anything unless I can remember what colour it is (and that doesn’t happen often!)
- so, my bookshelf is organised like this regularly but never for very long at a time
- the easy way
- the easy way is organising it by how often I read a book, ones that get read more go at the top and ones that I don’t read very often go at the bottom
- not particularly inspired or even very nice-looking
- often comes after the artistic way because it’s the least effort and the quickest to sort
- extremely dull though so I get bored of it very quickly and then it’s onto way three…
- the traditional way
- this is where I try to make my bookshelf look as much like a shelf in a library as possible
- it is organised by genre with each genre being divided into sub-sections and each sub-section is organised by the author’s last name
- if I decide to go all out, there are dividers to show each section and the genre of each, with the sub-sections written on each one
- unfortunately, whilst this is organised and perfect… it doesn’t make it very easy to add in new books and thus, back to the artistic way we go
My favourite is probably the artistic way because it looks gorgeous without being too much extra effort!
Let me know how you organise your books in the comments? By colour? By author’s name? Do you organise your books at all or do you just put them anywhere? I want to know!
As of today, I have had this blog for a year. It has changed since I first started it but then, so have I. This blog has grown with me as I have and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has read of my posts, and an even bigger thank you to the people that have stuck with it from the beginning.
This year has been a really big and exciting year for me and it’s been wonderful to share even parts of that with you all! Here is a short list of some of the best bits about this year.
- I finished college and I got accepted into my first choice university, I’m going to study Creative Writing and English Literature in September.
- I went to Rome and it reminded me why I love city breaks, I went to so many amazing places and saw so many amazing things.
- I actually starting writing properly again, and writing something that I’m actually going to finish!
- I got even more into slam poetry and actually managed to write my own, it’s not perfect but it is mine and I love it.
- I got given a camera as a birthday present and have since got into photography, again, I’m not brilliant but I’m having fun! Maybe I’ll put some up in the future and you can all see how not great I am!
But no, this year has been amazing and I just wanted to say thank you! Here’s to many more years!
I am a fan of secondhand anything, I love hunting charity shops and vintage stores for hidden gems. I love that everything you buy has a story already and that you are just adding to an already rich history. This is why one of my favourite things to buy secondhand are books. I love finding secondhand books where someone has scrawled notes on the edges of the pages. I love secondhand books with turned over corners and cracked spines. Splodges of ink and passages underlined. I love seeing the parts that other people loved – or didn’t. I just think that there is something sort of magical about old books with stories upon stories.
Because in a way, you get two. You get the story of the actual book you’re reading but then you also get the story of the previous owner, you get to see how well-loved the book was and how many times they read it. You can see if they felt the same way about the characters as you do, even 20, 30, 50 years apart.
I also love secondhand books because who wouldn’t love to be able to buy a hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice for £1.50? It’s a wonderful way of doing it and if you don’t buy secondhand, then please give it a go!
Here are some of the gems I have found:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – £1.50
Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare – £1.50
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas – £1.00
Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare (annotated) – £1.00
The Importance of being Earnest and other plays by Oscar Wilde – 50p
Secondhand books are cheap and they’re beautiful. I know that some people prefer buying things new but honestly, buying things secondhand, be it books or clothes or anything not only helps you because the price is so much lower than it would ever be to buy it brand new but it so often also helps other people. Charity shops use the money they get to help others so please, just, give them a chance. You might find something amazing!
Let me know what book bargains you’ve got from buying secondhand in the comments!
I am going off to university in September to study Creative Writing and English Literature and I need some help from you all!
I can only take 5 books because I won’t have space for many more than that so I have narrowed down my favourites list to just ten books and I need you to tell me which ones I should take!
- Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli
- pro #1: a fun, easy read
- pro #2: one of my favourites books to re-read
- con #1: I’ve already read it at least a hundred times
- con #2: it won’t look the most intellectual because it’s a YA novel with a bright red cover
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- pro #1: one that I would be happy to reread as I find something new every time I do
- pro #2: it’s a classic so bonus student points for me
- pro #3: it makes me look intelligent because I studied it at A Level so I can talk about it
- con #1: again, I have read it loads of times already, at some point I’m likely to run out of new things to find
- con #2: it’s not the most cheerful of novels
- con #3: I’ll be studying classics, I might just be a little sick of them
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- pro #1: one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written (don’t fight me on this, it’s true)
- pro #2: I would look super intellectual again
- con #1: again… not particularly cheerful
- con #2: how many times can I read it, really?
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- pro #1: brilliantly written, I absolutely love detective novels
- pro #2: kind of a classic but also not like full-classic so it’s an easier read
- con #1: not the best re-readability because once you’ve read it once you know the twist
- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (all seven books)
- pro #1: it’s one of my favourite series
- pro #2: fun and easy to read
- pro #3: excellent re-readability
- con #1: that is a lot of books and will take up most of the space
- con #2: like… way too many books
- The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R Tolkien
- pro #1: it’s only four books in total so still less than Harry Potter
- pro #2: excellently written with a brilliant, classic story
- pro #3: could actually be helpful for my course because I want to write fantasy
- con #1: four is still most of the amount I can have
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- pro #1: I just really love Oscar Wilde
- pro #2: it’s a classic so bonus points for me
- pro #3: excellently written and the plot and characters are great
- pro #4: extremely quotable
- con #1: will it become dull after too many reads?
- con #2: will I be pretentious rather than intelligent?
- Six Poets: Hardy to Larkin by Alan Bennett
- pro #1: poetry rather than prose, nice to have a bit of variety
- pro #2: easily written and hugely enjoyable
- pro #3: quotes and facts galore
- con #1: how many times can I read the same poems, really?
- con #2: the fear of being pretentious
- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
- pro #1: again, poetry
- pro #2: brilliant for when you don’t feel great because she seems to know exactly how you feel
- pro #3: so re-readable because each one means something different depending on when you read it
- con #1: literally none, it’s perfect
- Pretty Things by Sara Manning
- pro #1: easy to read
- pro #2: super fun and enjoyable
- con #1: not the most intellectual
- con #2: as far from a classic as possible
- con #3: I’ve already read it a hundred times so I do wonder how many more times I can read it
Let me know which five you think I should take and why!
Something that has always been important to me is finding novels that do things a little differently, one of the main things that I am always on the hunt for are novels with LGBTQ+ characters, because – say it with me kids – representation is important! So this is the beginning of a list of (mostly YA – they seem to do this pretty well) novels that include (well-represented) LGBT+ characters:
- Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertelli
- A coming of age story about a gay teenage boy as he tries to navigate young love, coming out and the typical friendship quarrels of teenagers. It includes great lines such as ‘White shouldn’t be the default anymore than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.’.
- This is one of my favourites because the characters seem so realistic and I absolutely fell in love with Simon and his story. I couldn’t put it down because I was trying desperately to work out who Blue was before Simon did (not exactly difficult, he’s very slow on the uptake!)
- This novel is also at the top of my list because it not only includes a gay relationship at its heart (that is presented in the sweet and overly-romantic way common for straight couples in YA novels) but one the main characters is a gay POC which is something that is not often found!
- Also, it has a happy ending! No ‘bury your gays’ trope here! Just good, old-fashioned super cute boyfriends
- Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- Gay historical fiction? What more do you want?
- It tells the story of Achilles and Patroclus before the battle of Troy in the way that Homer was presenting it (read as: gay) unlike the cop-out of the film Troy when Patroclus was made Achilles’ cousin…
- Excellently written and beautifully presented, if you have any interest in Ancient Greece read this because it’s perfect! The story is perfect, the setting is perfect, the language is perfect… just, please! Read this book!
- There is character death – if you have a general idea of the story of the Iliad then you’ll know that it’s coming – but it is not because of their sexualities but actually because of war so it’s still not ‘bury your gays’
- Pretty Things – Sarra Manning
- A story of a group of teenagers discovering who they are, their sexualities are not the sole focus but it does play an important role in two of the characters’ lives.
- Charlie is gay, he spends the novel supporting his friends and trying not to fall in love with straight boys (spoilers: it doesn’t work). Daisy first presents herself as gay but as the novel progresses she discovers that perhaps this label is not the most appropriate. This is actually really important representation because whilst the word bisexual is never actually used to have a character that begins with the label gay but then discovers that their sexuality is a lot more fluid than that is amazing! So it’s great for anyone that has ever questioned their sexuality.
- The other two characters are straight but they are both incredibly supportive of their friends and they also discover who they are throughout the novel. Particularly Brie, she begins the novel as very much in Charlie’s shadow and ends it centre stage, literally!
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- Not actually one I’ve read but one that I have heard nothing but good things about.
- It is the story of two boys working out who they are and who they want to be. It follows the life of Aristotle, an angry teenager with a brother in prison and Dante who sees the whole world a little differently.
- It is apparently brilliantly written from Aristotle’s point of view and develops so naturally and so perfectly from a beautiful friendship to a beautiful romantic relationship that one cannot help but adore it.
- I, for one, cannot wait to read it!
The reason that I have chosen to do this is because this is a topic that is incredibly important to me. I feel that it’s really important to have novels that deal with LGBT+ themes in a mature and cohesive way without always making it the centre of the story. Most of these are YA novels in which the main focus is on the characters discovering themselves but that isn’t all we need. What we need are novels of different genres with LGBT+ characters. Give me gay detectives and non-binary vampire hunters!
And it will happen, but for now we should appreciate the excellently written ones that we do have currently because they’re still brilliant novels with lovable characters even if the main focus is their sexuality.
But it is so important for young, LGBTQ+ kids to see people just like them living lives that aren’t solely based around sexuality or gender identity. Because, I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, representation is so important!
I have always loved detective stories, from a young age I was reading Anthony Horowitz’s Diamond Brothers series – still one of the best detective series for young people I’ve found – and as I got older I started reading Sherlock Holmes and other such famous detective novels. But something that I never managed to read was Agatha Christie but now that has been rectified.
I bought And Then There Were None from the bookshop and finished it in a single night. I simply could not put it down! The story itself is fascinating and the writing, simply perfect. I fell in love with the fast-paced intellect of it all, rushing ahead to try and solve the mystery before they did… I didn’t manage it but anyone that has read it will probably understand why!
Detective stories are one of the most difficult thing to write because you need to have be able to not only have the motive for the actual culprit but everyone else also needs a valid enough motive to make it feel like there truly is an element of suspense. So I have so much respect and admiration for the people that write them.
But Agatha Christie is the undisputed queen of detective stories. Her characters are phenomenal, the detectives Miss Marple and Hercules Poirot are brilliant and the characters in And Then There Were None are some of the most well-written ones I’ve ever encountered. Vera was excellent, quick-witted and sharp and yet still vulnerable. Philip Lombard, the mercenary with a softer side. The stiff-lipped judge and the dismissive socialite. They all have a place in my heart. As does the great Agatha Christie.
I think that one of the things that I loved the most about And Then There Were None was the use of the poem throughout, it was interesting and really should have given me the clue that I needed to work it out! But it didn’t because everything else was so cleverly designed.
The crux of the matter is, if you haven’t read this book then give it a try and if you have then let me know if you worked it out before the epilogue!