Weekly Catch-up!

What I’ve Read

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A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love. (Book’s blurb from Harper Collins)

I recently finished The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I have seen The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on many top ten lists for 2018, so I thought I would see what all the fuss about. Everyone seems to LOVE these books.  I finished The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and I am not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Yes, the characters are likeable and flawed – which makes them interesting and relatable. Yes, the book is well written and at times quite amusing. BUT there is so much going on in this book – from highwaymen to piracy to everything in between. I don’t mind ending a book on a note of hope, but it kind of felt like the whole book fell down with the ending. To be perfectly honest, I was tired of it before the conclusion – there was TOO much going on and it left me feeling quite exhausted. I am reading the next book The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and I am hoping that it focuses more on the character of Felicity. Maybe my expectations were too high because I have seen these books everywhere. Perhaps I like books that develop character rather than lots of action. Let’s see how I feel after I finished the second book.

 

What I’m Reading

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Well, I decided to read the Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. Why, after I found the first book so exhausting? I did enjoy the character of Felicity. She was feisty, witty and intelligent. I also find that time period when a woman wasn’t allowed to pursue medicine as a career fascinating. Any job was pretty much off-limits for women. I am curious to see where this book goes and if we learn more about how women cracked the world of medicine. Though I have read the blurb and I am thinking that it is going to be similar to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. In saying that, from the little I have read I have enjoyed.

What I’m watchingImage result for schitt's creek

After a lot of reluctance, I started to watch Schitt’s Creek and I have fallen in love with this show. The cast is gorgeous, eccentric and unpredictable. At first, I thought this would be tired and predictable, but it hasn’t been. There have been times that as a viewer I have been quite proud of these characters and their growth (and I’ve even shed the odd tear). Schitt’s Creek has told a very deliberately paced story. Episode one began with a family of newly broke millionaires arriving at their one remaining asset; a backwater town they bought for their son as a joke. And, as such, it was a mostly predictable comedy of contrasts. The family looked down their noses at the residents, who in turn sneered at the family’s lack of real-world knowledge. I love watching this show. One of the reasons I like it though is because it is so inclusive. It is breaking stereotypes without banging you over the head. It shows you people being accepting of others who are different, not just accepting but inclusive. Schitt’s Creek is heartwarming, funny and generous. If you haven’t watched it yet, you should.

What I love (and hating)

I have terrible feet and a few years ago went to a podiatrist who wanted me to wear orthotics. I haven’t resorted to the orthotics yet, but I did realise I had to wear “sensible” shoes. He explained to me the type of shoe I should be wearing. Before this, I had many, many, many shoes – shoes that I am now unable to wear. I thought I could wear them occasionally but I can’t. When I wear shoes that haven’t received a podiatrist tick my feet ache. It feels like I have a piece of glass in my foot. The thought of wearing sensible podiatrist ticked shoes filled me with dread. I ventured off to my local Ziera shoe shop and found that they actually have some lovely (and even cute shoes). I don’t have as many shoes as I did have because these types of shoes are costly (but worth every penny). The reason I write this is because everywhere I look I see Instagrammers/Bloggers spruiking Frankie4 shoes. I am not particularly fussed on Frankie4 shoes. I don’t think they are as comfortable as Ziera shoes. I don’t believe that they hold up as well and from my experience, I don’t think the level of customer service is as high. And I am kind of tired of women who don’t need podiatrist ticked shoes telling me how fabulous they are. Though I think I reached my peak when I saw someone who is always spruiking something spruiking Frankie4 and it just felt like she was looking for some sort of sponsorship. If you want stylish, comfortable and podiatrist ticked shoes, you can’t go past Ziera shoes.

DOCK Blush / Gold Brush OffAUTUMN Light Tan / Cream

 

Weekly Update

I started this blog because over the years I have written reviews in notebooks, but it has been a haphazard affair. I thought by writing my thoughts into a blog there would be more of a consistent approach and I would be able to have all my thoughts in one place.

In lots of ways it a journal (but a public one), so I  thought I might jot other ideas down as well and then at the end of the year or through the year, I can look back on what I was enjoying at the time.

Book I’m Reading

Normal People : Winner of the 2018 Costa Prize for Best New Novel - Sally Rooney

At the moment I am reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. This book came recommended to me by a friend. On looking into the book, I realised that it was a BIG deal and I wondered why I hadn’t heard about it. Upon ‘googling’ I discovered that Sally Rooney is the next big thing. I bought the book, but for some reason, I was hesitant to start reading, probably because I am always terrified that it won’t live up to expectations.

I am enjoying the book and I am engaged with the two characters – Connell and Marianne. I do like that the two characters are sensitive, intelligent and yet awkward and unsure. I know this book has received rave reviews and I am probably halfway through so I will refrain from commentary too much because at this point in the book I don’t understand the hype that it has received. On saying that, I do love the character, Lorraine, Connell’s mother – she’s smart, sassy, kind and knows the difference being right and wrong. I like that she’s a young single mum and she provides Connell with a strong moral compass.  I am halfway through the book, but I am sensing where the book is heading, but let’s wait and see if I’m right.

Books I’ve Read

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I first read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty on my kindle. I will often read books on my kindle that I want to read but which I don’t think I will love and want a hard copy of. How mistaken was I! I loved this book. I believe that this is Liane Moriarty BEST book. Forget Big Little Lies! 

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. 

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

This book makes me laugh out loud and considering the topics include infertility, divorce, amnesia and death it shouldn’t, but Moriarty manages to write a book that is both beautifully moving and absolutely hilarious.

I like Liane Moriarty’s books but I’m not a HUGE fan but I love this book. I love this book enough to go out and buy a hard copy for my collection. The characters are funny, endearing and likeable. The story is told by three characters and Moriarty weaves these three voices masterfully. 

‘Busy,’ repeated Alice. She didn’t like the sound of that at all. She had always had a slight mistrust of busy people; the sort of people who described themselves as ‘Flat out! Frantic!’ What was the hurry? Why didn’t they slow down? Just what exactly were they so busy doing?’

Do yourself a favour and read it.

Shows I’m Watching

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At the moment I am feeling frustrated with television. I love TV. Before Netflix I loved TV. I have always been a TV addict. At the moment though I spent most of my time trying to find a show that isn’t centred on violence or drugs. That isn’t dark and depressing. I do watch these shows, but I need something lighter at the moment. 

I am re-watching Hart of Dixie which is absolutely delightful. I loved this show when I watched it the first time and I love it even more on my second viewing. I love that it isn’t dark and depressing. I love that the characters aren’t super bitchy. I love that the clothes in the show are fun. I love that it is funny, witty and charming. I love the setting – absolutely gorgeous. I like a show that is set in a small town with wacky characters and this is Hart of Dixie.  What I love about Hart of Dixie is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – a show doesn’t need to be pushing boundaries – sometimes all a viewer wants is to be entertained.

I am on the third season of four seasons and I am not sure what I will do when I have finished watching this light-hearted but adorable show. I am told that Jane the Virgin may fit my bill, but I am going to miss Bluebell. I seriously want to find a real-life Bluebell and move there.

Latest adventure

Recently we took a trip to Brisbane for the weekend. We stayed at the Next Hotel in the city or the old Lennon’s Hotel. The hotel was superb. The staff were friendly and accommodating and made the trip a great one. The hotel is smack bang in the Brisbane mall, so getting around the CBD was a breeze. Next Hotel is centrally located, but it has a lovely feel. You would walk into the hotel, up the escalators and the busyness of the city would disappear. We were lucky enough to upgrade to a King room and the King bed was HUGE and comfortable. 

On Friday night we made our way to Caxton Street and had dinner at Brewski Bar. I had a Brewski Beef burger which was delicious and my partner had a vegan cheeseburger which he declared was delicious. A big call from a discerning vegetarian. The service was friendly and relaxed. We will definitely be paying a return visit.

On Saturday we managed to fit in a walk to Southbank and after dinner, on Saturday night we made our way to the City Botanic Gardens to view the fig trees lit up with fairy lights (opposite the Goodwill Bridge). I have seen all the photos on Instagram and I wanted to look at the trees. They were beautiful!

It was a fun trip and of course, we visited one or two bookshops as well. 

Grace and Fury

grace and fury

Author: Tracy Banghart

Publisher: Little, Brown

I enjoyed Grace and Fury, but it wasn’t entirely what I was expecting. I was led to believe that it would be more groundbreaking. There seems to be a lot of books these days that have us believe that we are going to be thrown into a world where women have very few rights. Is this a way to remind women of how far we have come or is it because it makes for a good story? It would be nice to read a book where the men are the inferior sex or maybe where women and men are equal, but where’s the outrage in that story?

Grace and Fury is another book where female readers are meant to be incensed at the fact that women are subservient to men. It is all a little predictable. Though in saying all that, I did enjoy this book and I found it easy to read, fast-paced and gripping, but I am hoping that the next book in the series is more left of centre and takes the characters in a different direction. Grace and Fury is just another feminist story of oppression and resistance that is beginning to get a little old and unoriginal.

A story about two sisters, Nomi and Serina, who are fighting for their freedom in a world where women have no rights. One of the sisters has been chosen as a Grace (a Grace is a female companion to the royal leader) and the other sister has been sent to an island where she must fight for her life under primitive and cruel conditions.

The setting is a world with a tyrannical monarchy that makes the rules up as it sees fit. The only choices that women have in this world are servitude, factory work and marriage unless of course you are chosen to be a ‘Grace.’ A Grace is an attendant to the royal monarch and means that you and your family will be looked after. A Grace will never want for anything, but in return, she is a servant to the royal monarch in every way. She can make no choices for herself and must never refuse her royal monarch.

Serina wants to be chosen to be a Grace to the Heir of the monarch and she and her mother have spent their whole life working towards this goal. Of course, we have Nomi, the unruly rebellious sister who wants nothing but to be able to read and study like her brother. In this world, it is illegal for women to go to school or to read (sound familiar?).

Of course, nothing goes smoothly and Nomi being the wild younger sister sets off a chain of events that results in the girls being separated and facing challenges that they haven’t been prepared for in their young lives. Serina has been brought up to be a Grace and Nomi was brought up to be her sister’s maid. Neither is equipped to deal with the challenges that they are about to face.

Also, just once, I would love a character like Serina – who has trained her whole life to be a Grace to crumble under the adversity that is thrown her way, but of course, she doesn’t and she rises to the challenge – as all strong women do.  I understand what the author is trying to achieve, but I find it all a little banal and would welcome something a bit unexpected in stories like this one if only to throw the reader off balance.

I  was disappointed that considering this was meant to be a story of women empowerment that there were love stories thrown in for both girls. Though thankfully the romance didn’t take over the plot. I found both romances to be unnecessary and I think the author could have found more original ways to incorporate these men into the story.

Grace and Fury is an entertaining book and you will find it gripping and hard to put down once you start reading but if you are looking for a book with a fresh take on female empowerment than you need to keep looking.

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Take a moment…

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Recently on holiday in Kingscliff, I came across this seat on the beach. The first time I saw it, I was with my partner and we weren’t able to take advantage of it because it was being used by a man and his dog. I was hoping we would find another seat similar and we kept walking, but it wasn’t to be.

The next day I was walking on my own and I came across the seat and this time it was taken by a mother and her child. I walked further thinking that there must be another seat like it on the beach, but there wasn’t.

On my way back the seat was vacant and I took advantage of this and sat for awhile and read and looked at the beautiful view that the seat afforded me. The seat was quite comfortable and I began to wonder why it was there and who had put it there.

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Did someone put it there for their own use? What about when they came to the beach and someone else was using their seat? Do they politely ask them to move? Can they do that? There is no sign or plaque indicating that it was put there for any particular reason.

Did someone put it there for people to stop and take in the view and to wonder and think and relax? Was it put there to allow for a person to stay and gather their thoughts? Was it put there for a person to stop and just look at the water and to stop thinking? For someone to just sit and take in the world around them?

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The least unromantic scenario is that the council put it there, but why only one? I immediately decided that this couldn’t be the case.

I’ve decided that someone put it there for the lost souls, the couples, the families, the individual and their dog, for anyone really, for any reason that they need at that particular time.

I would like to think that it was put there so that we stop and take in the beauty that is around us because it really is quite magnificent.

Maybe there should be more seats like this to make us stop and to appreciate the beautiful world that we live in.

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Out of Africa

Recently, I was lucky enough to see ‘Out of Africa’ for the second time. The first time I saw it was many years ago. I was slightly apprehensive about seeing it for a second time, mainly because I have invited my partner to go see it with me. I hate recommending movies to people and then you feel anxious wondering if they liked it or not. ‘Out of Africa’ takes on more anxiety because it goes for a whopping 161 minutes (a quick calculation tells me that we are looking at almost three hours of movie).

Anyhow, off we trekked to USQ for Friday Night Flicks. Friday Night at the Flicks is advertised as ‘Toowoomba’s very own arthouse film night!’ and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers of this great event. Over the last few years, we have had the opportunity to see some great films. Yes, we could watch them on Netflix or a similar service, but there is something about coming together with a group of people who love movies that makes this event quite special. I am yet to stay for the drinks and chat afterwards (being the notorious introvert that I am), but I appreciate this service to the Toowoomba community. The organisers always try and pick movies that will both entertain and challenge. When looking up this event because I was hoping to find the names of the guys who created this occasion; I came across this snippet of trivia on their website about the movie – Meryl Streep wasn’t the first pick to play the lead role of Karen Blixen, the role was originally offered to Audrey Hepburn as the director didn’t think Streep was ‘sexy’ enough. If you’ve seen the movie, you will know that Meryl Streep embodied Karen Blixen (particularly the Danish accent).

Out of Africa is the story of Karen Blixen, the Danish writer who was later to publish under the name of Isak Dineson. Blixen shares her story of when she lived in British East Africa, now Kenya, where she ran a large coffee plantation. It is also the story of her love affair with big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton played by Robert Redford. But the real character of this epic story is Africa.

David Watkin’s romantic and graceful cinematography and John Barry’s lavish score indeed provides us with a feast for both the eyes and the ears. Sydney Pollack (director) made a beautiful film and the way he showcased Africa’s beauty is masterful. Even if you don’t enjoy the storyline, David Watkin’s photography is incredible – the landscapes, the shots of animal life. Finch Hatton’s biplane and the spectacular scenery will take your breath away. I am sure many who watched this movie fell in love with Kenya and were planning a trip to this majestic place.

There have been many criticisms of this movie since its release. Most criticisms were levelled at its length at almost three hours long and that it was boring and suffered from hostile pacing.  Personally, I didn’t find the movie too long. This is a movie that is a visual masterpiece and I soaked up every image that was presented to me on the screen.

The direction of the movie was gentle and sensitive. There is a scene in the movie where Robert Redford can appear to be narcissistic, but with the careful handling of director Sydney Pollack, as an audience, we are sympathetic to him AND to Meryl Streep’s character who wants so much more from him.

Out of Africa is a movie with the audacity to be about complex, sweeping emotions and Sydney Pollack doesn’t shy away from using his stars and their star power to his advantage and without apology. This is a movie that owns it stars – Streep, Redford and Africa.

 

 

 

Let’s stop the glorification of busy!

busyness

Recently I received a book in the mail, and there were several advertisements, including one for Audible that said, “No time to read? You need Audible”. Seriously? I had just ordered a book in the post, BUT it wasn’t the advertisement that truly offended me, what bugged me was the idea that I would have no time to read – I couldn’t find a few moments in the day to sit and read.

The idea of BUSYNESS has bugged me for quite some time now. I will admit that my week-days are particularly busy. I arrive at work at 7 am and most days I don’t get home until between 5 – 6 pm most days. Rarely is there a time during the day to sit and just read BUT my weekends are a different story and so are my weeknights. I will definitely make the time to read because reading is essential to me. It slows me down, it centres me and it relaxes me AND I take the time to read because I enjoy it. I will never be too busy to read.

BUT let’s get back to the idea of busyness. I hate that word. BUSYNESS. I hate people that tell me that they are TOO busy to read. People that tell me that they are too BUSY to go see a movie. Too BUSY to take time out for themselves. When did we become so obnoxious that we think being busy makes us important?

A couple of years ago I photocopied many of the above quote (that opens this blog) and placed them around my staffroom (before the first bell). When I went down to the staffroom at morning tea, all the posters had disappeared. I found this curious, so throughout the week, I would put the posters up and by the time I went back to the staffroom they had been removed. Apparently, someone was incredibly offended by this poster. Someone who equated their busyness with their worthiness??

Personally, I believe that BUSYNESS is used as a sense of entitlement or as something to hide behind.  If I were to say that I couldn’t go to a party because I was busy, no one would bat an eyelid. If I was to say that I couldn’t go to the party because I didn’t want to, then everyone would be offended or everyone would try to change my mind. What’s the difference? Busyness is the greatest of all excuses. No one will even ask what you are busy doing; they will just accept that you are busy.

Today it would seem that if you have “nothing” to do on the weekend, then you are pitied, BUT no one pities the busy person. Instead, they are admired. We praise busyness. If someone comes into work for the whole weekend, they are respected, appreciated and prized. Why? Is this healthy? Are we giving our best to our students if we are spending our weekends at school working? Wouldn’t it be better to give ourselves some distance from school on the weekend and come to school on Monday feeling refreshed? Isn’t it better to show our students that we are well-rounded individuals with a life outside of school?

I believe that busy people choose to be busy because they are frightened. They are fearful of silence, solitude and idleness. They need to fill their lives with busyness, otherwise, what will they do? Lately, I have been leaving my phone at home when I go to do errands. This means that while I am waiting for my coffee or standing in a queue, I wait and stop and enjoy the small amount of time with my thoughts, or I look around and watch what is happening around me rather than mindlessly scrolling through my phone. It is kind of sad that people never look up and appreciate what is happening around them. It is unfortunate that a few minutes waiting for a coffee, or standing in a queue or waiting at a traffic light can’t be endured without a screen to stare into.

Why do we have so much less time today then our grandparents did fifty years ago? Do we have less time today than in previous years because we waste so much time scrolling through our phones, iPads, laptops? Is it because we binge watch television? If you were to put your devices away, what would you do? Try it and see how much time you get back for yourself.

Lately, I have been choosing to spend a day where I do “nothing”. I read. I sit on my couch and daydream. I watch television or a movie (but not six hours of bingeing, but rather an hour or two). I play with my dog. I sit on my deck and watch the birds. I go for walks with my dog. I sit in the park. I read a magazine. I read the newspapers. I avoid my phone and other technology that will distract me. I don’t do any work for school. These days are blissful. They restore me. They make me a better person.

Let’s stop being consumed by the busyness monster. Let’s stop thinking that being busy makes us important. Lets put away our devices and look around and enjoy and appreciate the world we inhabit. Let’s stop the “glorification of busy”.

 

 

How to be a happy introvert in a social world

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For the past week, I have been on school holidays, and it has been blissful. I find my work environment draining, and that may be because I work with extroverts. Nothing against my work colleagues, most of them are lovely people. But working with extroverts and dealing with students on a daily basis can be exhausting for an introvert like myself. For the past week, the only contact I have had with people is with my coffee barista.

To be perfectly honest, I am the dictionary definition of an introvert. I can socialise easily with people, and people tend to like me (for some bizarre reason), but by the end of the day I am drained and need time to charge my batteries for the next day.

Today, there seems to be more understanding of an introvert, but I am not sure people understand how difficult it is to be an introvert in this extrovert world and I think the majority of extroverts don’t care enough to understand. They’d like to believe you were anti-social or shy rather than taking the time to appreciate an introvert. Or worst some people think because we choose to observe we are dull and have nothing to say. I work with a lot of extroverts who think I am rude because I choose not to socialise with them. Another thing I don’t understand. Why do I have to be friends with my work colleagues? I go to work to work not make friends.

 

How do I stay happy in the extrovert work environment?

 

  1. I arrive at work early (even though I am not a morning person) and I enjoy the hour of working in solitude before everyone else arrives. If I were to arrive when all my colleagues were there, I wouldn’t be able to prepare for the day. The quiet and lack of chatter and movement allows me to adjust for the day ahead. It goes against my nature to get up early, but in the end, it is worth it to have that time to prepare for the day of work without the intrusion of others.

 

  1. I have my coffee breaks in my office. I make a cup of coffee and sit at my desk, and I enjoy my coffee in quiet and solitude. In past times I would check my emails and do different things, but now I find that I sit and enjoy my coffee. Sometimes I read. I am tempted to take my coffee outside and sit on a bench (because I work in a beautiful environment), but I am afraid that an extrovert will see me and believe that I want company! This quiet time is good for my well-being and makes me better equipped to deal with the students who demand my attention.

 

  1. I tend not to go to staff social events. By the time Friday rolls around I find that the last thing I want to do is go out for drinks with my colleagues. All I want is to go home and sit on the couch, and you know what I don’t make excuses or lie, I tell the truth. I don’t want to go out for drinks. It is that simple. I will never understand why we need to make excuses for not wanting to do something. I am still not sure why it is okay for people to judge my choices in life. If they choose to go out and socialise, well they can, all power to them, so why am I judged for not wanting to go to a social event?

 

  1. As I have grown older and more content with who I am, I realise that I don’t have to make excuses for who I am. I am an introvert. I am not shy. I am not anti-social. I am not a snob. I do not like people, which takes me that one step further than most introverts. But the people I do like and love, I do whole-heartedly. Extroverts surround themselves with people because it makes them happy. I choose to spend a lot of time alone because this makes me happy. I say do what makes you happy and don’t apologise for it.

 

  1. I choose to communicate mainly by email or text. I hate talking on the phone. I hate meetings. My boss is someone who prefers to have meetings. He hates me communicating with him by email. I have learnt to navigate this, and we seem to have come to a happy compromise over the years.

 

It took me many years, but I now seem to have navigated the world of extroversion as an introvert. For many years I apologised for who I was, and I tried hard to be someone I wasn’t. I am now more accepting of who I am and what my limitations in life are. I always dreaded Monday mornings and that inevitable question, ‘what did you do on the weekend?’. Now, I smile and say didn’t leave the house and it was great.

The best way to be happy in a social world is to do what makes you happy and stop apologising and feeling bad. Enjoy your time, you deserve it, and most importantly, you need it.

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Judging a book by its cover

Recently I bought two books, and I bought these books purely on their covers. I did not read the blurbs or the reviews. I am a book cover junkie, I love a great book cover, and I personally think there are a lot of book cover junkies out there.

Working as a teacher-librarian, I hate it when a great book comes into the library but it has the worst cover, or it has a cover that I know will be off-putting to my students.  We live in a world where most of what we do is visual. Children and teenagers, in particular, are constantly bombarded with visual information. Books need to reflect this changing world. Yes, what is inside the book is ultimately the most important, but a cover can make or break a book. I know for a fact that some fantastic books have been overlooked by my students purely because they can’t relate to the cover or they don’t want to be seen reading a book because of its cover. We live in a judgmental world, and we may wish we didn’t, but we do.

The book cover is the first page of your book. It needs to grab the reader. In a sea of books, the cover is what a reader is drawn to first and then they will turn it over and read the blurb. If you walk into a bookstore, unless you are looking for a specific book, it is the cover that will make you pick up the book.

In my first year as a judge, I read a book that was great, but look at that cover! What is going on there? When it came in the mail with the other books that I had to read, I immediately picked it up and rolled my eyes and thought I am going to hate this book, but I didn’t, and the cover makes the book look like a light-weight read, and it isn’t. Tara Eglington has written a book about friendship that most of us can relate to and she wrote about friendship in all its messy and intricate glory but does the cover show that?? Teenage boys and girls would appreciate this book, but I am not sure it reached the audience it should have with this cover. We did make it a notable, but all the judges agreed that the cover didn’t reflect the book.

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Whether we like it or not, boys are more likely to be turned off by a girly cover. Books have arrived in the library that I know the boys will love, but the cover is pink or has a girl on the front, and I know it is going to take a hard sell from me to get the boys to borrow it. Sometimes I win the battle, but often I don’t, and it is frustrating because I know it is the boys who have lost the most by not reading the book.

Every boy I give this book to has loved it, but not one boy I know has picked this book up themselves and taken it home to read. The cover is just too girly. I wish we didn’t live in a world where boys felt intimidated to read a book with a girly cover, but we do. This is a great book, and it is a great cover, but it isn’t a cover that boys can relate to, and so they don’t read this excellent book which I know most boys would love. And by putting this cover on the front of a book, you have entirely alienated one half of your reading audience.

smooch

Boys will read a book with a female protagonist, but boys are reluctant to pick up a book that looks too girly. Boys like their protagonists to be sharp, witty and kick-ass, and so they will enjoy a book with great female characters. Even though this book has a girl on the cover, she looks tough and straight-forward, and the colours used on the cover reflect her no-nonsense attitude. This is a book that isn’t alienating boys!

frankie

Earlier in the year, we received The Shop at Hoopers Bend to be judged in the Older Reader category. We decided it needed to be moved to Younger Readers. The Shop at Hoopers Bend is a beautiful book, and I am pleased to see that it was short-listed in the Younger Reader category, but back to the cover! Yes, if you look closely, it reflects the magical quality of the book, not magic as in wizards and unicorns but magic as in everyday magic of coincidence, serendipity, love and friendship. To me, the cover is old-fashioned and boring. The Shop at Hoopers Bend is a beautiful and enthralling book that I am sure boys and girls would both love, but this cover isn’t doing it any favours. The cover isn’t terrible; it just needs a few tweaks to make it look more modern.

hoopers

I could go on and on and on, but I won’t. I am looking forward to reading the two books I bought recently, and I hope that they are as great as their covers. Yes, I have read books that have great covers but are terrible reads, but that’s another blog post! If you are curious, the two books that I bought are The Belles and Amelia Westlake.

ameliabelles