Shelf Organisation

While I know that this is never going to happen…

Image result for belle's library

…I do have high hopes for creating a library of my own one day soon.

It will be floor to ceiling and it will have a ladder (although the ladder may not slide around). We are buying a house in the next few months though and well, lets just say there is a Pinterest board dedicated to the library. It may only take up one wall initially – I digress, that wasn’t the the point of this post.

This post isn’t about physical bookshelves, but Goodreads ones.

I have been playing around with how to work my shelves for the several years I have been using the site. Here is how things stand currently.


I am aware that this is VERY tame by book blogger standards). I am also aware that not all books on my physical bookshelves are included on Goodreads. I have learned that I use this more as a record of what I have read, rather than a plan of what I am going to read (although I am trying to address that).

Exclusive Shelves

abandoned and paused (the fact you can’t use capitals on shelves you create does annoy me) are the exclusive shelves I have created myself. Typically a book is either on the Read, Currently Reading or Want to Read shelves. It can also be on other shelves, but it has to be on one of those main three unless you create your own exclusive one(s).

Why ‘Pause’ Reading?

Sometimes I am enjoying a book, but my enthusiasm for it fades. Perhaps there is a bit of a rubbish chapter. Perhaps there is a bit that I know just needs pushing through because overall I am keen to see where the story goes. Perhaps I have just read too many of the series already.

When this happens I pause the book. I have every intention of going back to it, but in the meantime I am going to give something else a try. Otherwise I have found I tend to stop reading thanks to the pressure of thinking I must finish the story before I can move on.

When it becomes clear that a book has been paused for too long, it moves the the abandoned shelf. It is incredibly rare for this to happen, but it does. I’m looking at you ‘Death Cure’.

The ‘Others’

I have started shelving my reads by year, and by reading challenge as well. I have found that I am returning to these shelves so clearly they were a good idea :). I don’t really re-visit the genre/age groups shelves so I might do away with those down the line. I think I will keep the shelves that show the format I ‘read’ in though. That is something I would like to be able to easily look back on.

What about you? How do you organise your shelves on Goodreads? Maybe we could become Goodreads buddies to share ideas?


Tag – I’m It!

I stumbled across Emma’s ‘Currently Reading Book Tag‘ today and while she didn’t tag me directly, she did say

I am tagging anyone who reads this and hasn’t already done the tag.

Well thank you Emma 🙂

This tag was started way back in 2015 by Charly Reynhorse on YouTube. I’m very proud of myself for following this tag back far enough to find that link!

Without further gif-ing, here are my answers…

How many books do you usually read at once?
Typically it is one per medium. I will have a paperback book on the go, one of the Kindle, and then one Audible audiobook. At the moment I only have two, 1x e-Read and 1x Audio-Read.

If you are reading more than one book at a time, how do you decide when to switch books?
I don’t so much switch, as read what is appropriate for what I am doing/where I am. For example, when I am on a long drive I have no choice but to listen to the audiobook (even if I wasn’t the one driving I cannot read in the car). If I am away from home, I will take the Kindle and save the packing space.

Do you ever switch bookmarks while you are partway through a book?
No, I have one bookmark that I use all the time. I only got this last year however, and before that I tended to use the receipt for the book. I’m not a corner folder though, I’m not an animal!

Where do you keep the book(s) you are currently reading?
I listen to audiobooks on my phone so that can be anywhere. My kindle is currently downstairs on the coffee table, but that tends to move around the house. Paper books stay by my bedside (and get used to block out the light for my clock over night).

What time of day do you spend the most time reading?
Before bed. Every night.

How long do you typically read in one setting?
About half an hour. Unless I am having a lazy day and am reading at some point other than before bed. Then I could lose hours to it. And if I am on holiday? Whole days for sure.

Do you read hardbacks with the dust jacket on or off?
I would struggle to tell you the last time I read a hardback. They are just a bit too pretty (and more expensive) so I tend to avoid them. Although I do have a collection of beautiful hardbacks, some of which are really old (like early 1900s old), but those don’t get read. They just sit there and look pretty. They are part of the ‘one day I will have a library like Belle’ dream.

What position do you mainly use to read?

Seeing as I typically read in bed this is a tricky one for me. If I am sitting while I read though I will rotate through almost all 12 of them. Although I would probably skip 7, 8 and 9.

Do you take the book you are currently reading with you everywhere?
My current reads are digital and audio so yes, thanks to my phone they are always with me. Even if I forget my Kindle I can use the app on my phone.

How often do you update your Goodreads progress on the book you’re currently reading?
All the time! I love having my Goodreads up to date. It is also really important to me (no idea why) that the edition showing matches mine as well. I love that I can update Goodreads straight from my Kindle too.

So internet…

How My Reading Has Impacted My Story Ideas


This year I have been working on upping my reading game. I want to read more widely and I want to read more frequently. I’m already ahead on my #2018GoodreadsChallenge so things are going well so far!

Knowing that my #NaNoWriMo story is aimed at 9-12 year olds, I decided it would be good to read more for those age groups. Having taught books like ‘Holes’, ‘Boy Overboard’ and ‘Feather Boy’ in the past, I do have some fairly recent experience of that age range. I also have specific children in mind when I am writing. I thought therefore that I knew what I was doing, but still, more current research couldn’t hurt.

Over the past few weeks I have been listening to ‘His Dark Materials’ and reading ‘Murder Most Unladylike’. These books have taken wildly different approaches to writing for children. Both feature characters of roughly the same age as my main character so have been helpful to me in figuring out where I want to go.

The language used within the stories is a good example of how the books are different, although that is not to say that one is better or worse than the other. ‘His Dark Materials’ is written in the third person and uses figurative language repeatedly. ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ is written in the first person and therefore as though written by a child. While I am still enjoying the story, it isn’t something that I would have been able to teach in school. There is little to no need for inference and for the year groups I taught I needed that extra depth of language.

One of my original motivators was writing something that I would be able to teach. If I want to stick with this (which I currently do), I need to write a little bit ‘older’ than the style of ‘Murder Most Unladylike.’ However, I think my current story would suit that style. Maybe I need to rethink my priorities.

‘His Dark Materials’ has reminded me that I love dystopian fiction (not that I would class that as such but stay with me). I want to create world different from our own that allows me to explore an element of humanity/society. That isn’t the story I started in NaNoWriMo, but the sketchy notes in my notebook say a story is brewing!

Also posted on PhiliBWriting.

Birthday Book Buys

I am so excited by my birthday purchases. But why did I choose these books?

Miss Marple and Mystery: The Complete Short Stories - Miss Marple (Paperback)Miss Marple and Mystery: Over 50 Stories by Agatha Christie




While I was away at Christmas, the house that we stayed in had a book with a selection of Agatha Christie short stories. I’ve never read any of her work before (although I have probably seen most of the stories on TV). I really enjoyed those stories and was excited to see these collection. I grabbed it straight away.


The Red House Mystery (Paperback)The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne




This book jumped off the shelves and into my hands without me even getting a chance to read the blurb. I knew I wanted to experience A. A. Milne writing something different. I have no idea what I am getting myself into with this one (other than it is a mystery) and I am excited to find out!



Sky Song (Paperback)Sky Song by Abi Elphinston




I admit that one reason I picked this up was because of online hype. I haven’t read anything for this age group (9-12) in a while and I am excited to dive in. It also has the added advantage of being the age group my NaNoWriMo novel is aimed at so it is sort of research too.



The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - The Polar Bear Explorers' Club (Paperback)

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell




This is another book I heard about on Twitter. It is beautiful and I can’t wait to get started on this one either. I need to spend some time figuring out my #tbrlist reading order!





I Don’t Enjoy Reading

I have an English degree. 

I am a qualified English teacher. 

I don’t enjoy reading. 

For the purpose of this post, reading is the act of moving your eyes across a page of a book and taking in the words that lay there.

For me, the act of reading is stressful. I don’t use that word lightly, it is actually a condition.

My Reading Habits at School

The first time I remember actively reading for pleasure was on holiday when I was about 12. I was seriously bored. There was no TV in the villa and because this was 20 years ago WiFi wasn’t an option either. Like often happens in such places, there were some books that had been left behind by past occupants. I picked up a John Grisham book, I want to say it was ‘Runaway Jury’ but I can’t be sure. I would read it for hours on end and really enjoyed it. Although, I would skim read it. And I never made it to the end.

English was always my favourite subject at school and yet if we didn’t read the entirety of a book in lessons, then I wouldn’t finish it. But talking about the story? Talking about language? That I could do all day. I was able to riff off what other people were saying to ask questions and make inferences without having read the full text.


We weren’t a family of readers either. Don’t get me wrong, my parents read to me and supported me with school, but they didn’t read for pleasure unless they were sitting by the side of a pool. Reading wasn’t a part of everyday life.

I took English to A-Level (I did a combined Language and Literature course) and then read Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Kent.

It was at university that I thought I would need glasses. I would get really tired eyes and headaches from reading four different texts each week. I found an optician who was willing to give me a very mild prescription to make reading easier for me.

The Problem

Cut to five years later and I am training to be a teacher. We are being shown texts written in such as way as to simulate what it is like to be dyslexic in the classroom.

I started crying.

Oh god. Was I about to find out that I hadn’t just been lazy but I had been dyslexic all along? How had I made it 27, survived a grammar school and a bachelors degree without anyone picking this up?

Thankfully Brighton University had suitable funding for me to be able to be tested and it all happened really quickly. It turns out that I am not dyslexic but I have something that sometimes forms part of that diagnosis.

I have Irlen Syndrome (also known as visual stress so I wasn’t exaggerating earlier when I said reading was stressful).

If you follow this link you can read more about it. At the top of the screen you can change the page colour. I like the greeny colour towards the middle of the options.

It sounds strange, but when I read with a green overlay it is more comfortable for me. It is like my eyes sigh in relief when I put the overlay there.

In an effort to overcome Irlen while at university I developed the skill of speed reading. Typically I don’t read for more than about 20 minutes at a time (and lying in bed) so I tend to not bother with the overlay and simply skim through. My current reads tend to be pretty stress-free in terms of font size, paper quality and spacing so that helps as well.

If I am reading during the day, or for longer periods, I will pull out my overlay and make things more comfortable for me.

For me isn’t so much about the reading, as the love of the story. Stories are how we learn, how we grow and how we escape.

Books I Binged in 2017

This time last year I hadn’t read any of the Dresden Files. Now I have read all 15 of them.

While there have been other books I have read this year, the bulk of my ‘read’ list on Goodreads for 2017 are Dresden Files.

Chris and I listened to the first book ‘Storm Front’ while driving down to see family and from there I read on before bed. One book after another for months on end.

I think the fact that Spike James Masters does the voice helped to cement the vision of Dresden I have in my head. I don’t know why he wears a hat on the book covers, he doesn’t in the narrative.

But how do you review books when you have read them in such quick succession like this? As I was reading them I wasn’t thinking about that. I was more interested in getting through them as they were such pulpy fun reads. I would struggle to tell you which book what bit happened in, but I do think there are three distinct eras of Dresden that would make it easier to review.

1 – The first three books

2 – Before ‘Changes’

3 – From ‘Changes’ onwards

I will pop those reviews on my to-do list in the fancy new notebook I got for Christmas!

Will there be more variety in my reading in 2018? I would like to think so but as most of my reading happens before bed I don’t like to pick anything too challenging. Quick and easy reads are my go to with my life currently.

The important thing is that I keep reading.






Did We Read The Same Book?

I made my mistake – I scrolled!

I have been looking to improve my book reviews so I went to Goodreads for some inspiration. I thought I would start with a book I know well, ‘The Hunger Games’.

Now to say that I know this book well is something of an understatement. I taught the book for a whole term and managed to get a 13 year old girl to use the phrase (unprompted) “wow the book is better than the film.”

Then page loaded and then I made my mistake – I scrolled!

I accept that we all read differently. We see different things depending on our experiences, our beliefs, our moods etc. But sometimes I find myself wondering – did we read the same book?

Yes, there is a quality of writing that you won’t get in a Y-A novel. I accept that, and I pass no judgement. It is appropriate for the audience. If people feel the need to comment on that then fine.

If people just don’t like the content, that’s fine.

If you are one of those people that hates on things because most people like them – well I feel sorry for you.

If you think ‘The Hunger Games’ is anything like Twilight? Well, honestly. I just can’t even get my words out. Firstly, since when did Twilight become the benchmark for whether a book is good or not? How can you compare Katniss, Peeta and Gale to Bella, Edward and Jacob? Yes, there is one girl and two guys. You can have that one. But…oh seriously I am so angry…Peeta gives Katniss hope but what does Edward give Bella? Does he give her a reason to live? Nope, he gives her the exact opposite in fact!

And breathe.

In short, read reviews before you read a book and not afterwards. They do nothing for your blood pressure!