Sunday 19 February 2017

London Bookshop Crawl 2017

Where to start with this post? If you've been around the blog for a while you'll have seen that the bookshop crawl I started last year to brighten up February, support bookshops and meet fellow book lovers got a lot bigger this year. Because of that I've been busy madly co-ordinating everything and organising groups and haven't had time to worry about how it was actually all going to work. As we got closer to Saturday I found myself getting a bit apprehensive...

However Saturday morning hit and we headed out to Foyles, the meeting point for the people who were in the four groups we ran during the day. Many other people took part in the crawl across London and it was amazing seeing tweets of where they'd been and all the bookshop love going on - one of my favourite things about the day!

We were a little late to Foyles due to some train/breakfast issues so lots of people were already there when I arrived - some familiar faces and a lot of new ones. If you were feeling overwhelmed I was totally there with you! It was lovely to meet so many people though, and we spent a little while chatting and handing out books (some of us had posted books we wanted to rehome on social media beforehand so it was fun to put faces to names and make some shelf space all at once) and the tote bags we'd had printed for the day.

Rhys and I were leading group 3 and headed off to Orbital Comics. Personally I love and adore Orbital, and they were giving away free comics to bookshop crawlers which was amazing. Rhys got Doctor Strange and I picked up volume one of March by John Lewis which was recommended to me by Elena (and many others). I've actually already finished it and it's just as brilliant as everyone says it is - I highly recommend it! I'm not sure there were a huge number of comics fans in our group, and so we thought it would be good to split up, as our second stop according to the itinerary was Gosh! Comics.

Rhys took most of the group off to Oxfam Books in Bloomsbury where they were given free chocolate and badges and generally seem to have had a whale of a time! Katie, myself and Jane (who it was awesome to finally meet after a while of Ninja Swapping and chatting online) headed off towards Gosh where we found Katheryn, Hanna, Charlotte and Laura (and Peter). This was particularly exciting for me since I last saw Charlotte and Hanna three years ago, before Sam was born, and we've been trying to meet up again ever since! I think I did a good job of creeping up on them and generally involving myself in conversations that didn't involve me, whilst accusing them of bitching about us. Excellent friend, me.

Anyway, at Gosh I decided to theme my comics buying for the day and got volume 2 of March. I'm slightly kicking myself now for not having bought volume 3 as well, but never mind! I've never been to Gosh before and I'll definitely be going back - I loved the layout as the upstairs is laid out much more like a bookshop than other comic shops I've been to, and I found it really easy to browse. Their selection was awesome and the staff were great - the 10% discount for bookshop crawlers helped too!

After we'd rounded up all the people we were supposed to have we made our way over to Persephone. After a couple of minor mishaps (we got split up from a couple of people but found them again at the other end) we finally made it, to find the rest of our group had already finished! Agreeing to meet them at Blackwells we went for a browse. I love Persephone books. They're a small (teeny) bookshop with a publishing house in the back and they publish books by forgotten writers, mostly women. I've yet to read a Persephone book I didn't like so my choices this year were mostly random. Taking advantage of the 3 for £30 offer (they're usually £12 per book) I grabbed High Wages by Dorothy Whipple, because I bought and adored They Were Sisters on last years' crawl, William - an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton, because it's Persephone Book 1, and Miss Buncle's Book by D.E Stevenson.

The last stop before lunch was Blackwells, where I picked up Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta, with some encouragement from Jane! Those of us who'd met last year, plus a few people I was particularly looking forward to meeting, met up for lunch at Pizza Express. It was really nice to chat with everyone and have a little bit of time off from being in charge of everything!

After lunch we embarked on my big mistake of the day. Our next stop was Libreria, which is a really cool little bookshop - really quirky, beautifully and very cleverly designed, but absolutely miles away from the rest of the crawl route and really not big enough for a group! I grabbed The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan which I'd heard good things about, and we were on our way over to Word on the Water.

This was the stop most people were most excited about I think. It's a bookshop on a barge in the Regents Canal and it's amazing. They had a great selection of second hand books, live jazz and a really lovely owner who gave me a book (Bookshops by Jorge Carrion) as a thankyou for organising the crawl and generally enthused about how brilliant it all was so much that it really reminded me why I was doing it in the first place. Independent bookshops are the best. With the last of the unseasonal sun on the water and the saxophone, plus the friendly dog sniffing all of our bags, it was the perfect penultimate stop. I also bought Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, as it's about a bookshop on a boat and seemed fitting.

We merged the remainder of our group with the remainder of Louise's group at this point. Our final stop of the day was Waterstones' Piccadilly where we had a chance to sit down and have a drink while attempting to remember obscure bookish things and doing a quiz organised by Stephen (thanks again!). Everyone was pretty much asleep by this point, but after some lemonade and a chat I felt sufficiently revitalised to spend my book tokens on A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, the only thing besides March that was actually on my 'must buy' list, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, and the beautiful hardback Victor Gollancz Guards! Guards! to add to our collection.

After that we said goodbye to everyone who was still around and wearily made our way home. Of course being me I'm already thinking about the summer crawl (if you have an idea for where you want it to be - it roams, and isn't in London - please let me know on twitter. At the moment the front runners are Canterbury and Brighton) and ideas to make the 2018 London event even more excellent. If you missed out on the event but would like info about future ones you can sign up for updates here.

I'm sending out a feedback survey this week, but so far all the feedback I've had has been really good. It seems like people had a brilliant day and I'm so thrilled to have met so many book lovers and made so many bookshops happy by pointing people in their direction. This is the stuff I live for guys. It makes me happy.

My eventual haul plus awesome tote bag & badge. The left hand pile were given to me by fellow crawlers, the right hand pile are my purchases...

Saturday 11 February 2017

On Quitting

I've seriously lost my enthusiasm for blogging lately, and I don't blame the blog. I overcommit myself and I'm really sick of feeling like I can't read what I want to read. Even when constraints are things I'm really excited about and even things I've originated (i.e Re-Readathon, Discworldathon) I've still been feeling really unmotivated. This week has been Re-Readathon and my usual count is 2-4 books finished. This week I've not finished one, and this is partly because of Bookshop Crawl planning but primarily because I'm just having a huge aversion to anything I 'have' to read at the moment.

This post is an announcement, of sorts, and before I start I want to apologise to anyone I may be letting down, but I've decided for the sake of still loving books that I need to pull out of all reading commitments for the rest of the year. No more Re-Readathons, and I'll still co-ordinate Discworldathon of course and will still hope to read some Pratchett this year, but overall I'd like to leave the actual posting and running of events to the hosts for each month as I'm finding having to post about stuff to be really off putting too.

I'm feeling like my focus needs to really be on Ninja Book Box, bookshop crawls and book swap, since these are things that I'm enthusiastic about, and I'd love to bring the excitement back to my reading life. I think making these changes will do that.

I'll probably be putting the blog on a little bit of a hiatus. I plan to primarily post short book reviews on Instagram and leave the blog for the occasional parenting/lifestyle/general thoughts type posts and book lists. I'll be on twitter for all the events I organise. I don't want to stop blogging but the fire has really gone out of it at the moment and I think I need to read exactly what I want, when I want, without ANY pressure at all for a long, long time.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Re-Readathon: Day 1-3 Stats & Different Perspectives

My re-reading so far this week has been really reflective of the state of my brain; disjointed! I'm going through a phase of life where I think after this week I'm probably going to throw in the towel for any kind of reading commitments besides Discworldathon (which I'm doing a terrible job of hosting, and I apologise) and Ninja Book Box related things and just read whatever the hell I want for the rest of the year. However it remains that I love and adore the premise of Re-Readathon and I have been doing some re-reading this week, amongst the mass email sending for London Bookshop Crawl, sorting things for goody bags and organising the February book box! 

Day 1,2 and 3 
Books read from: Pride & Prejudice, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Pages read: 90

So that's pathetic, but on the plus side I am really enjoying Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet particularly is hilarious. 

Different Perspectives 

Today's mini challenge is hosted by Gee. She asks us to reflect on a different perspective a re-read has given us, for better or worse. Honestly I don't have an answer for this! I'm not saying I've reacted in exactly the same way every time I've re-read a book, but similarly enough that there aren't any particular books that spring to mind when I think about this question! The closest I can get is my response to Sylvia Plath. 

When we studies Plath at school I really really hated her poetry. It struck me as massively self indulgent, whiny and narcissistic. Honestly, it still pisses me off that she'd compare her relationship with her father to Hitler and the Jews. For goodness sake. But when I re-read a lot of it at University I eventually began to realise that although all my former opinions remain (in my head at least) true, I do have to give her credit for being pretty great with words. 

Here's the poem that changed my mind (from


The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels,
Her green eyes slant, hair flaring in a fan
Of silver as the rondo slows; now reels
Begin on tilted violins to span

The whole revolving tall glass palace hall
Where guests slide gliding into light like wine;
Rose candles flicker on the lilac wall
Reflecting in a million flagons' shine,

And glided couples all in whirling trance
Follow holiday revel begun long since,
Until near twelve the strange girl all at once
Guilt-stricken halts, pales, clings to the prince

As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk
She hears the caustic ticking of the clock.

Weird because it's definitely not technically her best, but I do still really like it. 

Head over to Gee's blog and link up your entries for today's challenge, and don't forget to let us know how your re-reading is going in the comments or using #rereadathon!

Sunday 5 February 2017

Re-Readathon Day One: Intro Survey & TBR

Hey people, welcome to day one of Re-Readathon. I hope your reading has been going well, and I'll just say now, from the start, that you shouldn't expect my posts this week to be anything less than last minute. I'm going to aim to post every day but we'll see what happens because with organising the bookshop crawl and sorting the February Ninja Book Box not to mention caring for two under fives, everything's a little bit mad around here!

Anyway, here are my answers for the opening survey. Below there will be a master linky for you to link up anything Re-Readalong related all week so please feel free to link up your survey answers and TBRs there!

Opening Survey

1. Tell us a little about yourself!
I'm Bex, I'm the founder of Re-Readathon and many other much crazier internet based projects. I find it impossible to do just one thing at a time, including reading one book at a time. I have an addiction to buying books and live in a house with 300+ of them as well as my two young children and husband. I like milkshakes, singing loudly, Harry Potter and board games, the more obscure the better. I'm also entirely failing at hosting Discworldathon this year!

2. How often do you re-read books?
I re-read fairly often - often I don't finish my re-reads though. Whenever I'm feeling down or the world is going to shit I reach for an old favourite, most regularly Harry Potter, Little Women, or Fangirl or Attachments, but I'll often just read until I start to feel better again and then move on to something else. Re-Readathon is my chance to actually finish entire re-reads.

3. What is your current favourite book?
I think The Outrun by Amy Liptrot which is absolutely phenomenal memoir slash nature writing, although I did just finish Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi which is entirely as good and better than everyone has been saying it is. Talk about breaking your heart, firing you up and making you fall in love with it all at once.

4. What do you love most about re-reading?
Oh where to start. Re-reading is like my medication. Reading familiar words calms me down so much. I love revisiting worlds that I know I'll be swept up in, or wallowing in nostalgia from re-reads of childhood favourites. For me there isn't really a risk in re-reading like there is in other reads. Yes I've started to re-read things and they've not had the same effect that they did the last time I read them and that's sad but ultimately I just put them down until another time. For years I re-read Little Women annually. In the last couple of years I've only dipped into it, as mentioned above, but have moved to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for my annual fix of familiarity. I think what I re-read reflects what I need at the time really, and I'm great with that.

5. What's on your TBR? What are you going to read first?
I've tried to keep my TBR a little more manageable this time. Usually I go completely overboard and it's ridiculous but this time I've kept it to six... Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (of course, because it's a new year and I haven't read it in 2017. Plus it'll inspire me for the coming season on the allotment), The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart, because I've been thinking a lot about how connected we all are all the time recently and I'm needing some inspiration to unplug, The Colour of Magic for Louise's readalong for Discworldathon this month, Little Women because it feels like a crime to not include it, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot because I haven't re-read it yet, and I've started with my beautiful clothbound edition of Pride and Prejudice because I saw it at the theatre last week and wanted to remember it better.

Please link up any and all Re-Readathon related posts below!

Saturday 4 February 2017

Re-Readathon Schedule and Kick Off!

So Re-Readathon 5 officially starts tomorrow but since it's Saturday evening and I have small kids who are actually asleep I thought I'd put this up now.

If you have no idea what Re-Readathon is, basically it's a week during which you read something you've read before. You can devote the entire week to re-reading or you can pick up a re-read on the side of whatever else you're currently reading. You can read old favourites or books you just read last year (or even last month). The only rule is that you give yourself some time to revisit books you've already read.

For this Re-Readathon I have two co-hosts, Katie and Gee, and they'll be hosting various mini challenges and events throughout the week. Of course, all of these are entirely optional, but it is nice to get to know each other a little better and chat as well as inspiring each other with what we're reading! If you haven't officially signed up for the event yet please do make sure you do so so that we can all come and say hi to you - you can link up your blog, twitter, Instagram, Youtube channel, wherever you'll be talking about what you're reading, at this post.

We'll also be using #ReReadathon across all social media channels throughout the event. 

And as you can see Day 1, officially tomorrow but have the questions now, is me with the Opening Survey & TBR. I'll be answering this myself tomorrow as well as posting my updated TBR. 

Opening Survey

1. Tell us a little about yourself! 
2. Have you participated in a re-readathon before? How often do you re-read books?
3. What is your current favourite book? 
4. What do you love most about re-reading? Or what makes you wish you re-read more? 
5. What's on your TBR? What are you gonna read first? 

Happy Re-Readathon, everyone!